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Maya, named after the Sanskrit word for 'illusion', is a girl on the cusp on womanhood. Her fate is tied, via an arranged marriage, to Ravindra. In prose as eloquent as a hymn to cultural differences, Khalap has created poetic microcosm of Indian society. 'You peek at your husband to be while he slurps tea from a saucer, smelling of Lifebuoy soap...your father-in-law, Shantaram Patil a.k.a. Nana, in Terycot trousers and nylon shirt, with big gold ring warmed by the beedi held upright in the last two fingers, mixing smoke and ash for a better kick, snaps his fingers to encourage the ash to submit to gravity.' Ravindra becomes a famous artist, but the marriage falls apart when Maya meets the poet, Krishnarao. Ravindra exiles himself to New York and Maya must make her way alone with her spurned son, Sharan, in an India hostile to single mothers.
Kiran Khalap is an ex-primary school teacher, inspired by the poet Krishnamurti to start a writing career. This is his first novel. He is an advertising copywriter, and won the Indo-UK short story competition in 1997. He also publishes in Man's World, India's answer to 'Esquire' magazine. He lives in Bombay.