We That Are Young: A novel (Hardcover)

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A stunning debut novel, a modern-day King Lear set in contemporary India: the tale of a battle for power within a turbulent family, for status within a nation in a constant state of transformation, and for the love and respect of a father disappearing into dementia

Jivan Singh, the bastard scion of the Devraj family returns to his New Delhi childhood home at the age of twenty-three after fifteen years in the United States. His arrival coincides with the unexpected resignation of the founder and aging patriarch of the Company--its simple name belying its vast holdings across industry and entertainment, and the family's national renown. On the same day, Sita, Devraj's youngest daughter, disappears--refusing to marry the man her father wants for her. Now, Radha and Gargi, Sita's older sisters, are given the Company--and a brutal struggle for power begins. Set against the backdrop of the anti-corruption protests that spread across India in 2011 and 2012, We That Are Young is brilliant in its fierce, incandescent storytelling and the energy of its prose. It tells a deeply insightful tale of India today, the pace of life in one of the world's fastest growing economies, the clash of youth and age, and the ever-present specter of death. But more than that, it is a novel about the human heart--and its inevitable breaking point.

About the Author

PRETI TANEJA was born in England to Indian parents. She has worked with youth charities and with refugees, and in conflict and post-conflict zones on minority and cultural rights. She teaches writing in prisons and universities. She is the co-founder of the advocacy collective ERA Films and of Visual Verse, an online anthology of art and words. In 2018 she was awarded The Desmond Elliot Prize for We That Are Young.

Praise For…

“Extraordinary. That rare thing—a genuinely new voice. Spellbinding. It does what all the best novels do. It expands the possibilities of the form.”
—Mark Haddon, author of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
“Preti Taneja has packed her debut novel with so much insight and feeling for contemporary India that her sentences seem to spill out as if from an overstuffed bag. It’s a marvel that she was able to pack in so much (plot, atmosphere, social observation, you name it) while sustaining such propulsive energy over the course of nearly 500 pages, and yet she manages to the last. The overall effect is dizzying, dazzling, and ultimately convincing and immersive.”
—Eugenia Williamson, Boston Globe
“We That Are Young is an embodiment [of King Lear]. The register is dramatic and the language poetic. . . . It’s marvelous to watch Taneja, a woman, play with the text [of Lear] in which the women are atrocious. She’s no easier on these characters than Shakespeare was, redeeming none, so that the last laugh is hers. And it’s as gratifying to watch Preti Taneja take on William Shakespeare as it is to watch India trounce Britain at cricket. The Raj is long over; ever kingdom falls.”
—Rumaan Alam, The New York Times Book Review

We That Are Young is a masterpiece. I can't remember when I last read a book so uncompromising, fierce and emotionally vast.”
—Omar El Akkad, author of American War
“Taneja is a writer of considerable energy and invention . . . [We That Are Young has] such deliberate and frightening pacing, such a mix of triumph and psychosis, it’s up there with anything Mary Gaitskill or Susanna Moore have ever written . . . An entirely original take on Lear . . . A new, chilling take on one of the oldest stories in the world.”
—Parul Sehgal, The New York Times
”Every now and then, a writer grabs you in the first paragraph and doesn’t let go. Such is the case with Taneja, whose stunning debut brings with familial jealousy, sexual tension, political turmoil, and shocking violence. . . . Taneja writes with passion and verve. . . . Highly recommended.”
—Sally Bissell, Library Journal
“Take Vikram Seth’s A Suitable Boy, King Lear, ‘The Jewel in the Crown,’ ‘Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous’ and V.S. Naipaul’s India: A Wounded Civilization; pass them along to DJ Danger Mouse for a bit of a mashup; and you’d have a sense of the shape and scope of Preti’ Taneja’s debut novel.”
—Thane Tierney, Bookpage

“Shakespeare’s supreme tragedy, King Lear, is transposed to contemporary India and recast as a family drama of financial power-brokering within a transforming, culturally complex nation. . . . Issues of gender and generations spearhead the conflict in this mammoth drama of money, succession, and control, British-born Taneja’s impressive first work of fiction. Pulsing with vitality . . . Taneja’s dreamy synthesis of language, place, food, clashing views and values, seeping Westernization, and post-colonial flux reaches its climax. A long, challenging, but inspired modernization of a classic—engaging, relevant, and very dark.”
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Taneja’s impressive debut uses King Lear as a template but fearlessly varves a territory of its own. While remaining close to Shakespeare’s plot points, she offers a portrait of modern India both panoramic and complex. . . . Taneja’s intricate, literary prose is heavy in both detail and reflection. This is a work of epic scope and depth that’s bracingly of the current moment.”
Publisher’s Weekly (starred review)

“Big, beautiful, and most of all bold: a rewriting of King Lear, transplanted to modern day Delhi which is both a dazzlingly original reading of the play and a full novel in its own right. A masterpiece, and by a long way my book of the year.”
—Daniel Swift, The Spectator
“Finely crafted . . . Taneja has given us that rarest of beasts, a page-turner that's also unabashedly political—with the complex, ambiguous, fiercely felt politics of our time.”
Deborah Smith, The Guardian
“This spirited debut is one of the most original . . . and exquisite novels of the year. . . . This is a new voice, vivid, full of imagery and pace, and with the richness to match the vibrancy of its world.”
—Alexander Nurnberg, The Sunday Times
“Sharp, cogent, and evocative . . . The great appeal of [We That Are Young] concerns the serving of justice: discovering who gets what, as opposed to who deserves what.”
Randy Boyagoda, The New Statesman
“A remarkable picture of contemporary India . . . Taneja’s sensuous writing brings women’s predicaments to life . . . a chilling warning.”
Sarah Gilmartin, The Irish Times
“India’s exorbitance almost overwhelmingly spills out of Taneja’s prodigious sprawling debut novel that unrolls a contemporary reworking of King Lear. The ruinous after-effects of a despotic business tycoon’s resignation shudder through her 550-page narrative packed with vivid scenes and powered with prose of terrific vitality.”
—Peter Kemp, The Sunday Times, Books of the Year

“Preti Taneja spares us the unrhymed iambic pentameter, but not the poetry, in a contemporary retelling of Shakespeare’s King Lear.
—Erin Kodicek, Amazon Book Review
“A searing reinvention of one of literature’s most memorable tragedies, We That Are Young is a gripping portrait of a family and a nation on the brink of change.”
—Dianca Potts, Signature

Product Details
ISBN: 9780525521525
ISBN-10: 0525521526
Publisher: Knopf
Publication Date: August 28th, 2018
Pages: 496
Language: English

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