Connecting India's tumultuous 19th and 20th centuries to its distant past and its potentially apocalyptic future, The Light at the End of the World interweaves timelines in which each protagonist must come to terms with the buried truths of their times as well as with the parallel universe that connects them all.
Extraordinary ... The four sections of the novel, though disparate, bleed into one another in the reader’s mind ... I was in awe of Deb’s imagination and razor-sharp prose ... That the novel invokes a glorious past, hints at a utopian future and contradicts reality could be the author’s way to protest an authoritarian government skilled in just that.
Deb expertly compresses two centuries of India’s history—and its future possibilities—into four sections and a coda ... Abundantly and realistically detailed, yet spiked with fantastical elements from mysterious cellphone messages to a ticktock army, the four main sections are so rich and so freighted with ideas that each could stand alone as its own novel. Linking them serves to create a strong sense of life in India and a sink-into-it read for lovers of big books.
At times, the novel’s hallucinatory and historical qualities can clash, and its malleable reality can make it challenging to parse the finer details of what is happening during certain moments. But that hallucinatory quality makes this novel far more effective than a more buttoned-down narrative style would have.