The City of Good Death

Pre-Order   Ships Feb 23, 2021

Description

Winner of the Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing, Priyanka Champaneri's transcendent debut novel brings us inside India's holy city of Banaras, where the manager of a death hostel shepherds the dying who seek the release of a good death, while his own past refuses to let him go.

Banaras, Varanasi, Kashi: India's holy city on the banks of the Ganges has many names but holds one ultimate promise for Hindus. It is the place where pilgrims come for a good death, to be released from the cycle of reincarnation by purifying fire. As the dutiful manager of a death hostel in Kashi, Pramesh welcomes the dying and assists families bound for the funeral pyres that burn constantly on the ghats. The soul is gone, the body is burnt, the time is past, he tells them. Detach.

After ten years in the timeless city, Pramesh can nearly persuade himself that here, there is no past or future. He lives contentedly at the death hostel with his wife, Shobha, their young daughter, Rani, the hostel priests, his hapless but winning assistant, and the constant flow of families with their dying. But one day the past arrives in the lifeless form of a man pulled from the river--a man with an uncanny resemblance to Pramesh.

Called "twins" in their childhood village, he and his cousin Sagar are inseparable until Pramesh leaves to see the outside world and Sagar stays to tend the land. After Pramesh marries Shobha, defying his family's wishes, a rift opens up between the cousins that he has long since tried to forget. Do not look back. Detach. But for Shobha, Sagar's reemergence casts a shadow over the life she's built for her family. Soon, an unwelcome guest takes up residence in the death hostel, the dying mysteriously continue to live, and Pramesh is forced to confront his own ideas about death, rebirth, and redemption.

Told in lush, vivid detail and with an unforgettable cast of characters, The City of Good Death is a remarkable debut novel of family and love, memory and ritual, and the ways in which we honor the living and the dead.

Product Details

Price
$28.00  $25.20
Publisher
Restless Books
Publish Date
February 23, 2021
Pages
448
Language
English
Type
Hardcover
EAN/UPC
9781632062529
BISAC Categories:

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About the Author

Priyanka Champaneri received her MFA in creative writing from George Mason University and has been a fellow at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts numerous times. She received the 2018 Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing for The City of Good Death, her first novel.

Reviews

"This is an insightful look at the Hindu traditions surrounding death and 'funerals' in the Holy City of Kashi. We go inside the hostel and see the life of Pradesh and his family, as they faithfully attend to the families coming with the bodies of their loved ones. But when a corpse shows up after being found in the river, it is not easy to '...Not look back. Detach, ' as they always tell the family members. There is a history here and their own family is soon embroiled in an emotional turmoil that changes everything. This is a remarkable cultural story but also one of common humanity. Book clubs will want to give it a look."--Linda Bond "Auntie's Bookstore "
"Champaneri's Kashi is teeming and vivid ... the book frequently charms, and it's as full of humor, warmth, and mystery as Kashi's own marketplace."--Kirkus Reviews

"Lush prose evokes the thick, close atmosphere of Kashi and the intricate religious practices upon which life and death depend. Rumor and superstition hold sway over even the most level-headed people, twisting what's explainable into something extraordinary--with tragic consequences.... The City of Good Death is a breathtaking, unforgettable novel about how remembering the past is just as important as moving on."



--Eileen Gonzalez "Foreword Reviews, Starred Review "