Longing and time radiate through debut novel

“Your memory feels like home to me. So whenever my mind wanders, it always finds its way back to you.” — Ranata Suzuki

It’s a small world, after all. In today’s society, we’re aware of our reliance and interconnectivity with others. We’re so intertwined that some argue that there’s only six degrees of separation between you and the rest of the world. While our latest read doesn’t embody that particular theory, it shows how a maid on a small island is connected to a political criminal, a geologist and a smuggler.

Latitudes of Longing by Shubhangi Swarup

In Shubhangi Swarup’s debut novel, she introduces readers to the odd pairing of a scientist dedicated to studying plants in the Andaman Islands and his spiritual bride with a knack for chatting with ghosts and plants. As they grow to love one another and face the growing pains of their marriage, it is this couple’s connection that sets the groundwork for Swarup’s sweeping tale of time and mortality. Swarup’s narrative shifts through the threads of her tale to explore the connection between a mother and her estranged son, imprisoned for his revolutionary cause. From there readers are transported into the heartaches of a lonely smuggler and the young dancer he befriends, to an old man in the mountains who longs for love.

Each tale tells a story of loneliness or the search for companionship as fortune chooses to favor each character differently. Each element of “Latitudes of Longing” comes back to connect to the love story between the scientist and his wife; while the pages may travel further away from their initial story, it acts as the pebble that causes the rest of the narrative to ripple from.

Ghosts don’t haunt her story, but aid the characters in their pursuits as they experience the ravages of time, loss and love in Swarup’s sweepingly lyrical tale.

From the book jacket…

The novel sweeps across India, from an island, to a valley, a city, and a snow desert, to tell a love story of epic proportions. We follow a scientist who studies trees and a clairvoyant who speaks to them; a geologist working to end futile wars over a glacier; octogenarian lovers; a mother struggling to free her revolutionary son; a yeti who seeks human companionship; a turtle who transforms first into a boat and then a woman; and the ghost of an evaporated ocean as restless as the continents. Binding them all together is a vision of life as vast as the universe itself.

If you enjoy…

Readers who fell in love with Swarup’s radiant writing may also enjoy reading the interconnected tales of love and loss in Khaled Hosseini’s “And the Mountains Echoed.” The book tells the story of two young siblings who are separated by a family’s struggle and the long and far-flung events that reunite them.