Product ID: 18885

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Author: Kunal Basu
Publisher: Penguin
Year: 2006
Language: English
Pages: 214
ISBN/UPC (if available): 0143062255


1855: on a deserted island off the coast of Africa, the most audacious experiment ever envisaged is about to begin. To settle an argument that has raged inconclusively for decades, two scientists dream up an elaborate experiment. A pair of infants, one black, one white, are to be raised on a barren island, exposed to the dangers all around them, tended only by a young nurse whose muteness renders her incapable of influencing them in any way, for good or for bad.

They will grow up without speech, without civilization, without punishment or play. In this primitive environment, the children will develop as their primitive natures dictate.
The question is: what will be left, when the twelve years of the experiment are over? Which child will be master, and which the slave? For surely one will triumph over the other. Or will they all, children and scientists alike, reap the fruits of breaking the taboo, as they discover love and loneliness on the wild but beautiful island of Arlinda.

Kunal Basu spins an enticing web, mingling science, history and romance.


Taut, elegant and intelligent .. One of the most interesting novels so far to chart the history of European racism.

Basu’s tale is an entertaining hybrid, part intellectual thriller, part boys’ own adventure, part romance at the heart of darkness.

A tender, tremulous love story, in which decency and kindness prevail, just, over the nostrums of the scientists. The African setting, by turns achingly beautiful and tinged with a sense of menace, is very well done; while the two small children, incapable of human speech, but blessed with low animal cunning, come poignantly alive. They are an eloquent embodiment of humanity stripped to its bare essentials.