A lyric, intense, and magnificently complicated novel (by the Welsh author of How Green Was My Valley) about an Untouchable--but lovable--entrepreneur-smuggler in Delhi who cons, wheels and kills his way to the highest ministerial and industrial realms and gradually goes straight after becoming the greatest black marketeer in India. Prem is a genius not only of manipulation--he reads character with IBM accuracy and sustains a World Trade Center of underground conspiracies entirely in his head. But this is not satire. Prem's premise is that it is better to give than receive, though perhaps to bribe is closer. ""Who am I? I am nothing,"" he says, and means it, for he is well aware of his origins and the ever-waiting funeral pyres on the banks of the Jumna. His operations are founded on a network of the Great Family of Untouchables; their devotion to him for raising them from the dust is instant and unswerving. He steals entire shipments of American aid--whole grain-relief programs, hospitals, warehouses of Chrysler engines still packed in their original grease. He never fails--such is the power of love. However, ingenious and glowing, there's the fire that waits at the river.