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An Atlas of Impossible Longing

3.66 of 5 stars 3.66  ·  rating details  ·  1,369 ratings  ·  232 reviews
On the outskirts of a small town in Bengal, a family lives in solitude in their vast new house. Here, lives intertwine and unravel. A widower struggles with his love for an unmarried cousin. Bakul, a motherless daughter, runs wild with Mukunda, an orphan of unknown caste adopted by the family. Confined in a room at the top of the house, a matriarch goes slowly mad; her hus ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published April 5th 2011 by Free Press (first published 2008)
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The God of Small Things by Arundhati RoyA Fine Balance by Rohinton MistryThe White Tiger by Aravind AdigaMidnight's Children by Salman RushdieThe Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Neeraja S
Seeking solitude and a niche for himself, Amulya moves to the idyllic village of Songarh, and sets up a factory that manufactures authentic herbal potions from the unique plants of the region. As much as Amulya appreciates Songarh, his family, especially his wife, dearly misses the bustling life of Calcutta. Her loneliness is an implacable longing. The longing starts there. Each person has his or her own deep longing, and grapples to fill the void caused by it. Due to the stringent rules imposed ...more
Brenda Youngerman
An Atlas of Impossible Longing by by Anuradha Roy is without a doubt the best book I have read in the past six months! It is the kind of book that stays with you throughout the day. The kind of book that resonates within your mind as you think, feel, breathe, do your daily chores. The kind of book that makes you stop and take notice of things around you that you would not otherwise stop and take notice of.

An Atlas of Impossible Longing is really three books in one telling stories of three distin
...more
cecilia
When I took note of this book, I had mistook the author as the one who had written The God Of Small Things. In case you are in the same pickle, these are different authors - the other being Arundhati Roy. Close, but not the same. And it becomes obvious when I opened to the first page of An Atlas Of Impossible Longing when typical prose greets me instead of the lyrical joie de vivre of words that The God Of Small Things had.

But this is not supposed to be a comparison piece. So I'll get on with th
...more
Jennifer Rayment
The Good Stuff

* Beautifully almost lyrically written.
* The landscape feels so real you could reach out and touch it.
* You can feel the authors love for the countryside
* This is not my sort of book, so please if you think you will like it, go get it, the author has talent. Check out the more positive reviews from other people listed below
* Some light humour - enjoyed the swearing bird

The Not so Good Stuff

* This one was a painful read for me as I just couldn't get into it, but too stubborn
...more
Fleme Varkey
An atlas of impossible longing happened just naturally for author Anuradha Roy. The novel grew out of an image of a large house half-submerged by a river. It was a haunting photograph of an actual house that had to be abandoned by her aunt’s family.

The book starts in 1907 and goes right up to the 1950s. It traces in its pages the lives and travails of a family over three generations. Amulya is quite a reticent man. A visit to a small town of Sonagarh changes his perception completely. He feels a
...more
Laurie
It did not end the way I expected.

And the last part is best in this modestly-paced novel of 20th century India.

In An Atlas of Impossible Longing, publisher-writer Anuradha Roy (not to be confused with Arundati Roy, author of The God of Small Things) traces one family's dysfunction through three generations, offering up a tale of caste and ill-fated love and decaying houses. It begins with patriarch Amulya's decision to move from Calcutta to a small town in Bengal to build a stately home in the
...more
Neha
What if a book offers you all those things which you have read and liked.. .. that is what this book brought for me... a Bengali author, setting of 1920s India, serenity of rural Bengal, hustle-bustle and noise of Calcutta, old mansions, story of three generations, family feuds, partition and Hindu Muslim relationships and fading British era,... All this sounded clichés but the newness of this novel is what makes it unique. Each aspect, character and moment is so well thought and well phrased th ...more
Ritu
An excellent book! Very well written! The story line had me mesmerized. I empathised with all the characters which means that the author captured the essence of the person. One could see the progression of insanity in Kananbala and understand why she became how she did. I liked the beginning more than the ending. It is a love story and I wonder if the author tried to rush into ending the story at the end. I was dissapointed that Mukanda did not do more for Suleiman Khan. Mukanda did come out as ...more
Book Him Danno
This book is filled with longing and heartache. From the beginning the wife’s hatred for her new home just hurt to read. Moving from a large busy city to a small rural community is hard on her and yet her husband takes no notice. The children and the marriages of those children were happy occasions that a few years later would suddenly fill with loss. The mother loses her mind in the process of all this misery. Will any of the people in this house be happy?

The description of the homes, ruins,
...more
Kavyen
The story was enjoyable. Of course there were no earth shattering events or extreme drama but it was the story of a normal family. A busy dad Amulya, his wife Kananbala so affected by loneliness that she almost goes insane, the eldest daughter-in-law Manjula who yearns to have a child of her own, the youngest son and archaeologist by profession Nirmal, Bakul his daughter and the almost adopted child of the family Mukunda. I enjoyed that the book was essentially 3 stories written as if they were ...more
Mmars
Occasionally a reader finds a book that suits one's pleasure, not as in leisurable pleasure, but in style and substance. First off, it's well written. Second, it's well edited and published. The cast of characters in front and glossary in back were wise additions. Thirdly, the story is interesting, compelling and intelligent. And fourth, Roy uses ingenuity that works - in switching point of view in the third section. At first I found this jarring, but somehow she made it work. Wonderful characte ...more
Bonnie Brody
An Atlas of Impossible Longing - The title of this book alone drew me in; that and I'm partial to books about India. This is a fine book on many levels and I was not disappointed. It's a multigenerational novel, a great love story, a cross-cultural learning experience, and a book about yearning, hope, loss, money and betrayal. It captures the big themes of life and does a great job of keeping the reader turning the pages.

The story starts out in 1907 when Amulya takes his family from Calcutta to
...more
Michelle
I've just finished this book, which I read cover-to-cover in about 4 days.

I thoroughly enjoyed the read: the book is well-written, the story engaging, and it proved to be a good companion during hot, crowded bus trips and late, sleepless nights in South India. (I suspect that the story was engaging partially because I read it in India; something about reading a book where it takes place makes a reader more engaged, makes one feel like the story is much more alive...)

That said, I'm not sure I am
...more
Hilary G
I had never heard of Anuradha Roy when I picked up this book, but I am glad to have found her. Reading the book is like being transported to the India she describes, with all its sights, sounds and smells. The story alludes to the effects of many old Indian customs (which may well still exist) and, while the impact of these often blights people's lives, this is not a dreary book. The tone of the book is gentle and sympathetic. I believe Anuradha Roy likes her characters, despite all their idiosy ...more
Elizabeth Joseph
It requires a bit of courage and ability to write a sad story without actually making the reader depressed. I think that is the most commendable part of Anuradha Roy's writing.

This book makes you sad, but it is not depressing. And I loved the Bengali village scenario and the pre-Independence era portrayed set in West Bengal.

One of the best novels written in an Indian setting :)

Verdict: Great Read.
ElphabaNewlin
Family, man. It's complicated, am I right? Many families have a fair amount of drama to go along with the love that they share, and then some may also have secrets on top of that. AN ATLAS OF IMPOSSIBLE LONGING is a story that strives to examine one such family, whose secrets, pain, and dramatics span three generations throughout the first half of the 20th Century in India. I think that a few people have referred to this story as Dickensian, and while I haven't read much Dickens outside of A CHR ...more
عبد الحميد بوحسين
رواية مكتوبة بآناة من ينحت حبة أرز،استمعت بكل شيء إلا بحضور جزء من روح و المخرج العظيم ساتياجيت راي ..مثل وخزة دبوس كان سؤال التأثر الذي فاق المسموح به ربما ليصبح إغارة على أعماله.. لا تخفي الكاتبة تأثرها بالمخرج العظيم ،لكن بينما أقرأ كنت أحصي ل
بعض المشاهد القادمة مباشرة من أفلامه لتطرح سؤال التناص أو السطو ..نرمال سيرحل دون أن يشاهد طفلته المولودة حديثا فقد حملها مسؤولية موت والدتها ،نفس الشيء سيفعله آبو في فيلم ''عالم آبو ''..كانابالا في عزلتها تكاد تكون نسخة من شارولاتا في فيلم يحمل نفس ا
...more
Beverly
In a town in Bengal, a family lives in solitude in their new house. Here, lives intertwine and unravel. A widower struggles with his love for an unmarried cousin. Bakul, a motherless daughter, runs wild with Mukunda, of unknown caste. Confined in a room, a matriarch goes slowly mad, her husband searches for its cause as he reshapes his garden. As Mukunda and Bakul grow, their intense closeness matures, and Mukunda is banished to Calcutta. He prospers in the turbulent years after Partition, but h ...more
Gail Cohen
Readable but not the Rushdie-like books I was longing for (perhaps that's impossible).
Zufar
I too bought this book by mistake, I was looking instead for Arundathi Roy's God of Small Things. However I believe that it was a mistake I would gladly make again.[return][return]I enjoyed this book tremendously, it was beautifully written and draws you in. While I had trouble reading it due to it's slow phase (Spanning three generations of characters) once I got over it, I could not stop. It's melancholic, infused with realism and there isn't a point where I could deny the possibility of it ha ...more
Karen
n Atlas of Impossible Longing is a hauntingly beautiful story about a family in India. The author explores love and loss through the years of this family and the longing of hearts separated by class and circumstance. I was taken into the caste system of India and the author showed regardless of feelings, status had to be maintained. It was so easy to get lost in the pace of the book and the author wove the story in such a way that you could actually feel as if you were in India viewing the story ...more
Melissa
A story set in India, with a natural background that is intense enough to be thought of as a character, that uses three generations of a family to tell the story of the breaking down and building up of homes/families/life. The first part is the story of the first generation, Amaulya and Kananbala. They leave the big city of Calcutta and settle into a small town, into a house Amaulya builds. Kananbala has no say in the moving out of Calcutta or the building and design of the house she lives in an ...more
Carla Ford
Steamy is a good word for this novel. From the first page, you feel as if you are India. The descriptive language is so vivid that you feel the heat, you smell the flowers, you are drawn in by the intensity of feeling and the passion that is a part of the lives of this Indian family. Building their house on the outskirts of a small town, Amulya and Kananbala are the only Indians living in this secluded area, surrounded by wilderness. With only her husband and two sons to talk to, Kananbala becom ...more
Tonya
This was a beautifully written book. Such imagery made you feel like you were really there, in Calcutta with Mukunda or across the road at Mrs. Barnum's. This story was told in three different parts, each one by a different person.

The story is difficult at first to delve into, but it will grab you when you start to learn who is who, and when you finally get it you won't want to put it down until the end. The first part we establish a bit about our cast of characters; each one being so unique yo
...more
Roxanne
Review below was originally published on my blog, Unintentionally Brilliant.

Despite the fact that it took me the better part of a month to finish, An Atlas of Impossible Longing by Anuradha Roy is a beautiful and poetic first novel. It's the story of three generations of a family in India that explores themes of home, family and love.

Anuradha's descriptive prose gives the reader a wonderful opportunity to explore the beauty, as well as the cultures, of India. Since the book spans three generatio
...more
Heather
I really didn't think I'd like this book.

It starts out thick and deliberately tangled, like an English major's thesis attempt: all five-syllable words and obtusely constructed sentences. It's as if Anuradha Roy was trying to prove her worth in the most obviously, pathetic way possible.

Alas, it grew on me. I'm not sure if I got more comfortable with the writing style or if she backed off her theatrical prose after the first few chapters, but by the time I got 1/3 of the way through, I was hooke
...more
Laura
The title of Anuradha Roy's first novel refers to a comment made by an astrologer while reading a character's palm. The character is Mukunda, who begins the story on the periphery, but ends in the center. At the beginning, the story is focused on Amulya, a middle aged store owner, who is insistent on settling in the small town of Songarh, despite the protests of his wife. Mukunda begins his life in the story as a whisper that an child has been fathered by one of Nirmal's sons. Mukunda is that ch ...more
Øystein Bjaanes
I've had this book sitting on my shelf for quite some time. It was available at a book sale, and I believed I'd heard of the author. I hadn't, as it turned out. And I forgot the book, until now.

The book in itself is a family history, following three generations of relatives in a small, Indian town near Calcutta. Unusually for such books, it changes it's narrative structure midway through. The first half is "traditional", in that it follows the home and tells the story of the house - the interact
...more
Gretchen
I like to read books about other cultures and this book set in India does a good job of giving you a sense of Indian culture and the people. This book tells the tales of three generations typically following the males in the family - the grandfather, son, and adopted grandson, but other female characters' stories are also told, and I particularly like the grandmother's point of view. That being said, I typically would read a book this size in 2-3 days, but it too me much longer to finish this bo ...more
Carla
I would say this is actually 3.5 stars. Impossible Longing is a good description of this book because it seemed to go on...and on...and on... The tale of a family that abandons Calcutta to move to Songarh is initially compelling as the father tries to build his business while his wife has no support system but feels she must uphold traditions and appearances leading ultimately to her dementia at an early age.

The tale of Namul and his bride is both beautiful and heartbreaking. His pursuit of his
...more
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Anuradha Roy was educated in Hyderabad, Calcutta and Cambridge (UK). She is an editor at Permanent Black, an independent press publishing in South Asian history, politics and culture. She lives mainly in Ranikhet, India, with her husband Rukun Advani and their dog, Biscoot.
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“A veritable atlas. What rivers of desire, what mountains of ambition. Want, want, hope, hope, this is what your palm say, your palm is nothing but an atlas of impossible longings.” 4 likes
“A veritable atlas. What rivers of desire, what mountains of ambition! Want, want, hope, hope. Your palm is nothing but an atlas of impossible longings. Nothing but longing.” 0 likes
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