Set against the brilliantly drawn backdrop of India at the turn of the millennium, The Alchemy of Desire tells the story of a young couple, penniless but gloriously in love. Obsessed with each other, they move from a small town to the big city, where the man, who dreams of being a writer, works feverishly on a novel, stopping only to feed his ceaseless desire for his beautiful wife.
A chance occurrence allows the lovers to abandon the city for a mist-shrouded spur of the lower Himalayas and move into a sprawling old house, which they hope will embody their love. At first they pursue their deep physical need with a reckless intensity. But during renovations of the house, a set of diaries written by the original inhabitanta glamorous American adventuressis unearthed, and the narrator finds himself irresistibly drawn away from his wife and thrust into another world and time, into the hole of history. As his life and love fall apart, he slowly begins to uncover the dark secrets at the heart of her story, until the shocking truth is laid bare and all certainties are overturned.
Inventive, playful, heartbreaking, brimming with ideas and memorable characters, The Alchemy of Desire celebrates the chaotic spirit of a country during a time of great change. It also offers, in searing, lucid prose, a deeply sensual and moving meditation on the nature of desire, history, truth, and art. This is a major novel by one of the most significant new voices of his generation.