The City of Good Death
The City of Good Death
By Priyanka Champaneri
The City of Good Death • Hardcover ISBN: 9781632062529 • $25.99 • Publication: June 2, 2020 Restless Books • 5.5" x 8.25" • 368 pages • General Trade • Fiction—India / Family Saga • Rights Territory: World • eBook ISBN: 9781632062543
About the Book
Winner of the Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing, Priyanka Champaneri’s The City of Good Death is a richly woven, big-hearted debut novel about the manager of a death hostel in India’s holy city of Banaras, and how our past lives affect our present.
It is known as Banaras, Varanasi, Kashi: India’s holy city on the Ganges, where dying pilgrims come for the promise of a good death, to be released from the cycle of reincarnation by purifying fire. As the manager of a death hostel in Kashi, Pramesh shepherds his guests on this final journey, and helps the living to let go of their loved ones. The soul is gone, the body is burnt, the time is past, he tells them. Detach.
Greeting each morning bathing in the ancient river, Pramesh can nearly persuade himself that he has escaped both past and future, suspended here in the holy city with no story trailing behind him and none unfurling ahead. He lives contentedly with his wife Shobha and their young daughter Rani, with the priests and constant flow of families with their dying rogi at the death hostel. But one day the past arrives to greet him in the lifeless form of a man pulled from the river—a man with an uncanny resemblance to Pramesh.
Called “twins” when they grew up together, Pramesh and his cousin Sagar were inseparable until a rift in the family led Pramesh to Kashi and Sagar to take over the family land. For Pramesh, the mystery of what led his cousin to Kashi and his death is one he’d sooner forget. But for Shobha, it revives an enigma from her husband’s past that threatens the life she’s built for her family. Soon an unwelcome guest takes up residence in the death hostel, the rogi mysteriously cease dying, and Pramesh’s ghosts force him to contend with his own past life.
Told in lushly vivid detail and with an unforgettable cast of characters, The City of Good Death is a remarkable debut novel of family and love, storytelling and tradition, and how we honor the living and the dead.
About the Author
Priyanka Champaneri was born and raised in Virginia. She received her MFA in creative writing from George Mason University and has been a fellow at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts numerous times. The City of Good Death, her first novel, won the Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing.