Charry's most remarkable feat with this novel is that she wears her enormous learning and research lightly throughout. Her cinematic worldbuilding ensures spectacle and substance as it sweeps us along the Coromandel coast, London streets, and the Virginian countryside. The characters are detailed with care and attention so that we find humanity even in the worst of them ... Brinda Charry has... beautifully pioneered a much-needed path forward into rich, new literary territory.
Brinda Charry is able to create a convincing picture of Virginia life in the 1630s and the struggles of its people to survive in a harsh environment ... This is a triumph of the imagination framed clearly within the realities of colonial Virginia. The East Indian is a historical novel in the finest sense as it illuminates a time and place through the lives of fictional characters and imagined events with exceptional skill.
Far from a light read, this novel is one of heartache and persistence ... The plot is engaging but slow moving ... Few fictional narratives explore this era of American history and indentured servitude in the Colonies; Charry addresses this notable absence head-on, and her writing has a sophisticated elegance that aligns perfectly with the gravity of the novel’s contents. The result is a necessary and ultimately triumphant addition to the chronicles of American colonialism.
A dazzling first-person account of a reluctant traveler destined to a life of movement, displacement, and persistent reinvention ... His account is marked by his irrepressible hope, curiosity, and faith in himself, and spiked with a satirical edge ... The East Indian is a tender tribute to the earliest laborers who survived by their wits as servants and enslaved.
This quasi-historical novel is less concerned with period details of speech, clothing, crafts, or furniture than with the human interactions that affect an “in-between and indeterminate” person like Tony—and doubtless his followers of the Indian diaspora.