(Publisher’s Weekly, Oct. 13)
Nick Sunder, a disillusioned Boston lawyer, has been backpacking in Asia for more than a year when disaster strikes at the start of Mastras‘s stirring first novel: the police in Peshawar, Pakistan, arrest him for cutting his French girlfriend’s throat. Innocent of the crime, Sunder escapes custody by killing a cop. He heads into the Himalayas on foot, and after several weeks arrives at a remote medical clinic in the Indian-controlled part of Kashmir, where he gets a job as an aid worker, falls in love with a female Muslim doctor and witnesses horrifying acts of terrorism. Mastras, a TV writer (Breaking Bad) who’s trekked through Asia himself, delivers a winding, character-rich plot full of authentic detail and regional history. While sentimentality mars some passages, the odysseylike story grips. Though Sunder’s naïveté can be distracting at times, readers will cheer him along his path toward spiritual renewal, guided by the wisdom and advice of the titular Fidali, whom he meets on his journey. (Jan.)
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