THE GODCHILD by Stephen Alter


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A spare, authentic, disturbing novel of modern-day India, from the author of Neglected Lives (1978) and Silk and Steel (1980). In 1960, a 15-year-old girl named Mamta arrives at the mission hospital in the dusty little town of Pipra, carrying a squalling infant girl. Dr. Gene Fry--the devoted, baseball-cap-wearing American missionary--simply assumes that the child is Mamta's daughter. But then Mamta disappears, and, after much soul-searching, Dr. Fry puts the child out for adoption by a rich Connecticut couple. Now, in 1981, the child is back. Patricia Crawford arrives by train one day, seeking her roots. Seen from Patricia's point of view, it's a disorienting experience--people expect her to speak Hindustani because of her dark skin, but in her heart she's 100% American. Nonetheless, she meets the embittered Gautam, an Indian social worker who was formerly a Christian--and who knows the present whereabouts of Mamta. He finally leads Patricia for a fateful meeting with Mamta--during which Patricia is at last able to learn the real truth behind her birth and Mamta's mysterious disappearance. Both affecting and unsentimental; Alter (an American born in India who now lives in Delhi) takes an empathetic view of both Western and Indian cultures, and along the way offers a bit of a detective story.

Pub Date: March 15th, 1989
Publisher: Andre Deutsch--dist. by David & Charles