Manju Kapur’s novel focuses exclusively on the relationships of a small group of people, what they feel about themselves and one another, and what they say. There is almost no visual, tactile or aural impression of the world they inhabit. The setting, mostly the city of Delhi, is barely sketched: a tense journey through a city-wide traffic jam is the only vivid sequence I can recall. Kapur often locates a scene simply with a word or two (‘Shagun in Madan Singh’s office’), as if she were writing a screenplay instead of a novel and could leave the physical setting up to the cameraman.
As for the larger world beyond the emotional entanglements of the characters, history and politics are either seen through the affairs of the big international company for which the two male protagonists work or presented in brief, dry summaries. None of the characters has an intellectual life of