Author: Radhika Jha
ISBN/UPC (if available): 0670891886
Intensely imagined and richly nuanced, this unusual first novel by a young writer promises to chart new territory in contemporary Indian fiction.
When her father is killed in a riot in Nairobi, Leela's mother chooses to send her away to her childless aunt and uncle in Paris while she herself seeks refuge with her brother in London, along with her two sons. Forced to make the brutal transition from the open spaces and warm security of her home in Kenya to the claustrophobia of a poky apartment in Paris, Leela settles into the cheerless routine of helping her aunt in the house and working at her uncle's store.
But even this tenuous protection is short-lived and one night she finds herself alone on the streets of an alien city, without a passport or money. As she struggles to survive, stumbling from job to job and relationship to destructive relationship, Leela discovers in herself an unusual quality - her extraordinary sensitivity to smell.
A seemingly innocuous and occasionally useful attribute, it gradually begins to color her every emotion and response, from sexual arousal to the enjoyment of food. But when the dark feral stench of her own body threatens to overpower her, Leela is frightened into the realization that perhaps she has lost all control over her life.