COLOURS IN THE SPECTRUM

This debut novel follows four Indian college friends who, despite their disappointing lives, reconnect in modern India while trying to find purpose and direction.
Sometimes, the more things change, the more they stay the same. That’s the underlying theme of Swamy’s first novel, which follows four Indian friends whose lives since college have led to heartbreak. Karan, the main character, has the ability to see people in colors. After graduation, he went to the United States, where he lost the daughter of whom he was not the biological father. Arjun became a mental health professional whose wife was killed by Indian extremists. Aarti fell in love with her father-figure professor who could never love her back. Nymphomaniac Indu became an alcoholic magazine editor. All four return to Bangalore, India, the scene of their happy college days, to take pleasure in each other’s company once again as they attempt to figure out where to go from here. They also set out to find their fifth friend, Danny; what they discover about Danny helps them rediscover themselves. Swamy has written a quiet yet purposeful novel whose philosophy is spelled out by a quote from Voltaire in the epigraph: “Faith consists in believing when it is beyond the power of reason to believe.” Despite how many times they get knocked down, the friends get back up, still determined to find the happiness they believe life holds. The friends are vividly portrayed, although Karan, the main character, is probably the weakest, and the narrative slows when he bemoans his lot in life. Unhappy Indu and her desperate search for validation make the biggest impression. India itself is like a character—a country struggling to modernize and adjust to the presence of Google and Hewlett-Packard. The characters, like the country, are trying to find themselves in the modern world while honoring the traditional dictates of their forefathers—a difficult balancing act for any generation.
A quietly dynamic novel about the power of love, faith and friendship.

Pub Date: July 16, 2013

ISBN: 978-9382473633

Page Count: 325

Publisher: Frog Books

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2014

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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A LITTLE LIFE

Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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A steamy, glitzy, and tender tale of college intrigue.

THE CHASE

From the Briar U series

In this opener to Kennedy’s (Hot & Bothered, 2017, etc.) Briar U romance series, two likable students keep getting their signals crossed.

Twenty-one-year-old Summer Heyward-Di Laurentis is expelled from Brown University in the middle of her junior year because she was responsible for a fire at the Kappa Beta Nu sorority house. Fortunately, her father has connections, so she’s now enrolled in Briar University, a prestigious institution about an hour outside Boston. But as she’s about to move into Briar’s Kappa Beta Nu house, she’s asked to leave by the sisters, who don’t want her besmirching their reputation. Her older brother Dean, who’s a former Briar hockey star, comes to her rescue; his buddies, who are still on the hockey team, need a fourth roommate for their townhouse. Three good-looking hockey jocks and a very rich, gorgeous fashion major under the same roof—what could go wrong? Summer becomes quickly infatuated with one of her housemates: Dean’s best friend Colin “Fitzy” Fitzgerald. There’s a definite spark between them, and they exchange smoldering looks, but the tattooed Fitzy, who’s also a video game reviewer and designer, is an introvert who prefers no “drama” in his life. Summer, however, is a charming extrovert, although she has an inferiority complex about her flagging scholastic acumen. As the story goes on, the pair seem to misinterpret each other’s every move. Meanwhile, another roommate and potential suitor, Hunter Davenport, is waiting in the wings. Kennedy’s novel is full of sex, alcohol, and college-level profanity, but it never becomes formulaic. The author adroitly employs snappy dialogue, steady pacing, and humor, as in a scene at a runway fashion show featuring Briar jocks parading in Summer-designed swimwear. The book also manages to touch on some serious subjects, including learning disabilities and abusive behavior by faculty members. Summer and Fitzy’s repeated stumbles propel the plot through engaging twists and turns; the characters trade off narrating the story, which gives each of them a chance to reveal some substance.

A steamy, glitzy, and tender tale of college intrigue.    

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-72482-199-7

Page Count: 372

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2019

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