…a searingly vivid portrayal of the depths of human emotions—from the first glow of young love to the deeper strength of middle-aged commitment. A poignant and sophisticated work couched in lyrical, effervescent prose. –Kirkus Reviews
Chaitali Sen’s novel is a universal exploration of how political violence tests the noblest of human emotions. –Scroll.in
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2016 Finalist, Texas Institute of Letters Steven Turner Award for Best Work of First Fiction
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“Sen takes on all the challenges, from petty academic battles to deep and subtle relationship dynamics to large scale political strife, and she does it all masterfully.” – Abeer Hoque (author of Olive Witch), Your Impossible Voice
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In The Pathless Sky, Chaitali Sen conjures a world in which a nation’s political turmoil, its secret history, and growing social unrest turn life into a fragile and capricious thing and love into a necessary refuge to be defended at all cost. A world, that is, not unlike the one we live in. John, a hapless young student with a potentially brilliant academic career ahead of him, and Mariam, a shy, preternaturally perceptive woman from the north, fall in love in college. Their early careers, their seemingly mismatched natures, and the alarming changes occurring in their country conspire to keep them apart for years. But a day comes when, across a great distance, both realize that they have always loved each other. During the intervening years, however, the troubles in their country have reached a critical impasse. Government crimes have been whitewashed, personal liberty is deeply compromised, a resistance movement has emerged from the underground to take the fight for freedom to the streets, and the government militia employs increasingly draconian measures in an attempt to maintain control.
The Pathless Sky is a haunting and moving novel for readers of Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient, Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Lowland, and the novels of Amitav Ghosh. Sen’s lyrical language and fluid storytelling mirror the rhythms of political struggle itself. John and Mariam are unforgettable characters, troubled lovers who struggle to find a space for the finest human emotions in a place that is determined to abolish them.