TENTH AVATAR by Kanchan Joshi


A Quest for Answers
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A debut novel mixes Indian myths, contemporary times, and advanced physics.

When the reader first meets Hanuman, this figure from Hindu mythology asks his father, Gen. Kesari, to tell the story of a great battle he fought in. Through Kesari’s tale, the reader is introduced to the ancient Indian community of Vanara: forest dwellers with long body hair and immense strength. As young Hanuman, a member of the Vanara, listens to his father’s account, he dreams of one day becoming a great warrior. Meanwhile, in modern times, Krishnanujam, known to most as “Krish,” is a “world-renowned physicist and a doctoral candidate.” Krish is originally from India, though he pursues his doctorate at Cal Tech, where he is “figuring out the secrets of the universe.” Although Krish is a rising star in his field, his work has attracted the attention of some dangerous people. Krish’s publications have involved ideas about creating powerful weapons that could destroy the world and he finds himself a hunted man. Alternating between Hanuman’s life story and Krish’s attempts to pursue his work while staying alive, Joshi’s book creates parallel tales that the reader guesses will ultimately intertwine. Needless to say, there is a lot going on in what amounts to a free-wheeling adventure through both space and time with plenty of action and physics thrown in. While the plot against Krish remains vague (do his stalkers want to kidnap or kill him?), he manages to be a most unlikely hero, allowing others to appreciate the importance of high math while he is at the mercy of those assigned to protect him. Hanuman’s quest is more traditional (because he is a warrior and not a graduate student), but the reader wonders about the effect of an eventual crossover. It is this anticipation of a melding of two eras that gives the tale a sense of urgency. Although it seems likely that Krish will outmaneuver those who are after him, the bigger, much more endearing question is where his search for universal secrets will leave civilization as readers know it.   

A strange but entertainingly detailed amalgamation of the ancient and the modern.

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher
Program: Kirkus Indie
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