Kidnapped and transported to the New World after traveling from the British East India Company's outpost on the Coromandel Coast to the teeming streets of London, Tony finds himself in Jamestown, Virginia, where he and his fellow indentured servants must work the tobacco plantations. Orphaned and afraid, Tony initially longs for home. But as he adjusts to his new environment, finding companionship and even love, he can envision a life for himself after servitude.
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.