Review: No Country by Kalyan Ray

Kalyan Ray’s ambitious novel is an often moving tale about the travails of the abandoned and the uprooted, writes Pradyot Lal in Tehelka

No CountryThis is at one level a deeply engrossing journey about lives, continents and history. It is also about abandonment, loss of identity and the search for a new life, implying in the process the fact that the universal regime is of course inter-connected.

While telling the story, Kalyan Ray has woven together private histories and real events as he takes us through a multigenerational saga spanning 200 years. The year is 1843 in Sligo, Ireland, where people are starving and small cottages are being torched to punish tenants who cannot afford to pay rent. Two small boys with different backgrounds and persuasions are caught in a situation rendered even more thankless by the historical context.

Once the situation in Ireland becomes unlivable, Brendan, who has not heard from his best friend, takes Padraig’s daughter in his charge. “Papa Brendan” and Maeve, along with a school-teacher they love, depart for a new life in America, hanging on to the hope that one day Padraig will find them.

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