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.