?After years of absence, American travel writer Max Gate returns to Bengal, to the beach home of his longtime friend, the businessman Byron Mallick. The occasion is a funeral: for Damini, fervent investigative journalist and founder of a women's shelter, with whom Max once collaborated, until ultimately she scorned the book he wrote on their work together. It is irrefutable that Byron Mallick donated not milk, but milk adulterated with chalk, to the women and children at Damini's shelter--but did he also, to save his reputation, have her killed? The weight of this question burdens each character in this intricate, superbly crafted novel--Max; his former brother-in-law Piers O'Reilly, convinced of Byron's guilt; and Damini's cousin and Byron's former ward Ela, whose affair with Max has haunted both their lives, ending his marriage and setting him unaccountably adrift. Sunetra Gupta's consummate prose recreates the ache and complication of memory, as Max considers the tantalizing ambiguities of each of their pasts, the exquisite layers of emotion and action out of which, perhaps, the truth about Byron may be revealed.
SUNETRA GUPTA's previous four novels have been awarded the Sahitya Akademi Award, the Southern Arts Literature Prize, shortlisted for the Crossword Award, and longlisted for the Orange Prize. She was born in Calcutta and now lives in Oxford, where she is a professor of theoretical epidemiology at Oxford University.