Author: Neel Mukherjee
Publisher: Picador India
ISBN/UPC (if available): 0330451505
The Past is a Cruel Country; it never renounces its claim on you.
Ritwik Ghosh, twenty-two and recently orphaned, finds a chance to start his life all over again when arrives in England to study. But to do that he must relive his entire past, unravel a thread of narrative he can only now bring himself to read. Above all, he has to make sense of his relationship with his mother- scarred, abusive, all-consuming.
But Oxford holds little of the salvation Ritwik is looking for. As he loses himself in London and takes up residence with the elderly Anne Cameron, he drops out of official existence into a shadowy hinterland of aliens. Meanwhile, the story that Ritwik writes to stave off his loneliness, the story of another alien in a foreign country - a miss Gilby, who teaches English, music and Western manners to Bimala, wife of educated Zamindar, Nikhliesh,- begins to find ghostly echoes in his life with Anne Cameron. Which one is he making up?
And then, one night, in the badlands of King's cross, Ritwik runs into Zafar bin Hashm, suave, rich, unfathomable, possible arms dealer, Zafar takes him as a lover. Young and lost, what does the drive to redemption hold for Ritwik?
Set in 1970s and 80s India, 90s England and the first decade of twentieth-century Bengal on the eve of Lord Curzon's infamous Bengal Partition of 1905, Past Continuous is a scalding book about dislocations, and alienations, outsiders and losers, the tenuous and unconscious intersections of lives and histories, and the consolations of storytelling. It is also a book about the impossibilities of love.