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About the Book

About the Book

The Death of Vishnu: A Novel

A member of the Hindu trinity, the god Vishnu is the sustainer of the universe, the center between Brahma, the creator, and Shiva, the destroyer. However, in The Death of Vishnu, the title character is only an impoverished alcoholic who is dying on the stairwell while the residents of the building squabble over who will pay for the ambulance. And yet, perhaps there is much more to this Vishnu-just maybe, he is indeed the god Vishnu, the one who sustains the entire world.

The enormous implications of the answer to this question, and others raised in the novel, infuse its drama, comedy, and tragedy with a unique importance, a special gravity. Mrs. Pathak and Mrs. Asrani go to war over who is stealing butter in the kitchen. Mr. Jalal physically tortures himself in an obsessive search for an elusive faith, though he cannot fathom what the results will be when he reaches his goal. Kavita goes to great lengths to fashion her life after a heroine, any heroine, from the romantic world of Bombay cinema.

As the life of the building literally swirls around his body on the stairs, Vishnu's own life flashes before his eyes and takes him through the stages of life in the Hindu universe. Eventually he comes to the question: Am I an avatar of Vishnu? Am I one of his incarnations on earth, and if so, which one? Will a goddess be waiting for me on the other side? If not, will death be the end, or is another life waiting for me beyond the door at the top of the stairwell?

The novel takes place over a short period of time in the life of a Bombay apartment building. Through this window, we learn the stories of its residents and the forces that have shaped their lives as Manil Suri creates an intimate and intricate portrait of life in a great Indian metropolis.

The Death of Vishnu: A Novel
by Manil Suri

  • Publication Date: January 1, 2002
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial
  • ISBN-10: 006000438X
  • ISBN-13: 9780060004385