No Country: Book summary and reviews of No Country by Kalyan Ray

No Country

By Kalyan Ray

No Country
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  • Published in USA  Jun 2014,
    560 pages.

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Book Summary

Spanning two centuries and three continents, from famine-stricken Ireland to colonial India to modern-day upstate New York, No Country is a riveting, enchanting melting pot of a story about history, family, fate, and the enduring ties of friendship.

In rural Ireland in 1843, Padraig Aherne leaves behind his best friend, Brendan, and girlfriend, Brigid, and sets off to Dublin to rally for his country's independence, unaware that Brigid is pregnant with his child. But once he reaches the big city, a dangerous mistake forces him on a ship destined for Calcutta. As the potato famine devastates their home, Brendan escapes with Padraig's young daughter across the ocean, aboard one of the infamous "coffin ships" headed for America. As two family trees expand, moving towards a disastrous convergence from opposite sides of the world, Padraig's descendants struggle to define themselves and find their places in the world. From Padraig's reckless mother, to his precocious daughter Maeve who grows up to run a farm in Vermont, to Robert, a young policeman in British-era Calcutta who grapples with his mixed-blood heritage as an Anglo-Indian, to Billy Swint, a boy driven blind by his anger at his father, these are profoundly sympathetic women and men who transcend their eras and set up home in our hearts.

Unfurling against the fickle backdrop of history that includes terrorism on the Indian subcontinent, an East European pogrom, the Triangle Shirtwaist fire in New York City, and the terrible intimacy of a murder in a sleepy New England town, the repercussions of the lives torn apart in No Country will echo through the generations to come. This is a sprawling, ambitious, and endlessly satisfying read about love and its betrayals, hardship, family, and belonging…and how all history is ultimately deeply personal.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. [W]renching... This compelling tale of cultural interconnectedness is highly recommended. - Library Journal

"[A] compelling answer to a primal question: where do I come from?... Ray vividly illustrates the sentiment one of his characters puts down in a letter: '"We all stand at the same great isthmus in the geography of time. We are all related: Our mortality is our one common nation.'" - Publishers Weekly

"Told from multiple perspectives, this thoughtful novel offers a panoramic view of the way personal and national destinies collide, sometimes ending in tragedy, sometimes in triumph. Historical fiction fans will find much to savor." - Booklist

"Kalyan Ray shows both the thrill and trauma of immigration in a true and powerful way. A wonderful book. " - Lara Vapnyar, award-winning author of The Scent of Pine

"Kalyan Ray deftly draws the reader into the lives of an unusual cast of characters who inhabit worlds as diverse as 19th century rural Ireland, colonial India and present day New York. Ray has painted these characters with a loving intricacy that made me truly care about their hopes, dreams, and tragic reversals of fate." - Chitra Divakaruni, author of Oleander Girl

"This is a moving and compelling tale, full of richly satisfying ironies, and driven by a near-cosmic grasp of how fate and free will play out through our lives. " - Enid Shomer, author of The Twelve Rooms of the Nile

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More Information

Kalyan Ray's family was uprooted from what later became Bangladesh. Educated in India and the US, he is the author of the novel Eastwords and has translated several books of contemporary Indian poetry into English. He has lived and taught in several countries on four continents, and currently divides his time between the USA and India with his wife, the Indian film director and actress Aparna Sen.

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