NEW DELHI, March 22, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Janice Pariat’s new novel is an ambitious, elegant, multi-layered work that interweaves a quartet of journeys across continents and centuries.
In Everything the Light Touches we meet many travellers: Shai, a young Indian woman, lost and straying, who journeys to India’s northeast and rediscovers, through her encounters with indigenous communities, ways of being that realign and renew her. Evelyn, an Edwardian science student at Cambridge, inspired by Goethe’s botanical writings, who embarks on a journey seeking out the sacred forests of the Lower Himalayas. Linnaeus, botanist, taxonomist, who famously declared ‘God creates; Linnaeus organizes’, and his 1732 expedition to Lapland. Goethe, who travels through Italy in the 1780s, formulating his ideas for The Metamorphosis of Plants, a little-known, revelatory text that called for a re-examination of our propensity to reduce plants – and the world – into immutable parts.
Drawing richly from scientific and botanical ideas, the novel plunges into a whirl of ever-expanding themes: the contrasts between modern India and its colonial past; urban life and the countryside and nature; capitalism and centuries-old traditions of generosity and gratitude; script and ‘song and stone’.
Everything the Light Touches brings together, with startling and playful novelty, people and places that seem, at first, removed from each other, in time and history. Yet, all is resonance, we discover, all is connection. And at the heart of the book lies a tussle between different ways of seeing – those that fix and categorize, and those that free and unify. ‘To be still,’ says a character in the book, ‘is to be without life.’
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Everything the Light Touches has been in my head – and heart – for so long, growing from a seed of an idea in 2014 to this: four major characters, and a gently-entangled quartet of ‘travel’ narratives, strung across continents and centuries. Each of them, in their own way, is asking: How do we see the world around us? In fixity or fluidity? In categories or unity? For me, these are important questions because I believe they shape, in foundational ways, how we relate to our planet, to each other, to all living beings.
Writing the book has been an immense challenge – it is my most ambitious novel yet – and I am thrilled that it has found a home in the safe, supportive hands of HarperCollins India. They also published my previous work, The Nine-Chambered Heart, and I am delighted to continue working with them on this book.
– JANICE PARIAT
Everything the Light Touches is a book that makes you think anew about the world around you, to look at history, and ideas, in a different light from what we are accustomed to. This is a very ambitious, wonderfully written novel that is going to delight many, many readers in 2022 – it is one of those books that you wish would stay with you forever and never end. Janice Pariat is one of my absolute favourite contemporary authors, and I am so excited that we have this terrific new novel from her. I’m looking forward very much to publishing Everything the Light Touches next year.
– UDAYAN MITRA, Publisher – Literary, HarperCollins India
Janice Pariat has published three books of fiction thus far – all quietly accomplished in their different ways, and well loved. Her new novel, Everything the Light Touches, however, is an extraordinarily bold and ambitious one. I have seen it grow and flower over the past few years, from the germ of an idea into a work tackling big, urgent themes with great structural and formal inventiveness. It is a work that should propel her into the very front rank of Indian novelists writing today, and one that I’m truly excited to be publishing. If there’s one novel you read in 2022, make it this one.
– RAHUL SONI, Executive Editor – Literary, HarperCollins India
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About the Author
Janice Pariat is the author of Boats on Land: A Collection of Short Stories, Seahorse: A Novel, and the bestselling The Nine-Chambered Heart, which is also out with HarperCollins UK, and has been published in ten languages including Italian, Spanish, French and German. She was awarded the Sahitya Akademi Yuva Puraskar and the Crossword Book Award for Fiction in 2013. Her work – including art reviews, book reviews, fiction and poetry – has featured in a wide selection of national magazines and newspapers. In 2014, she was the Charles Wallace Creative Writing Fellow at the University of Kent, UK, and most recently, in 2019, a writer-in-residence at the Toji Cultural Foundation, South Korea.
Currently, she teaches creative writing and the history of art at Ashoka University and lives in New Delhi with a cat of many names.
About HarperCollins Publishers India
HarperCollins Publishers India is a subsidiary of HarperCollins Publishers. HarperCollins India publishes some of the finest writers from the Indian Subcontinent and around the world, publishing approximately 200 new books every year, with a print and digital catalogue of more than 2,000 titles across 10 imprints. Its authors have won almost every major literary award including the Man Booker Prize, JCB Prize, DSC Prize, New India Foundation Award, Atta Galatta Prize, Shakti Bhatt Prize, Gourmand Cookbook Award, Publishing Next Award, Tata Literature Live Award, Gaja Capital Business Book Prize, BICW Award, Sushila Devi Award, Prabha Khaitan Woman’s Voice Award, Sahitya Akademi Award and the Crossword Book Award. HarperCollins India has been awarded the Publisher of the Year Award three times: at Publishing Next in 2015, and at Tata Literature Live! in 2016 and 2018. HarperCollins India also represents some of the finest publishers in the world including Egmont, Oneworld, Harvard University Press, Bonnier Zaffre, Usborne, Dover and Lonely Planet.
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