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About the Book

About the Book

The Impressionist

"In between each impression, at the moment when one person falls away and the next has yet to take possession, the Impressionist is completely blank. He becomes these other people so completely that nothing of his own is visible..."

Pran Nath Razdan, the boy who will become the Impressionist, was fathered by an Englishman and passed off by his Indian mother as the child of her husband, a wealthy man of high caste. Pran lived in luxury just downriver from the Taj Mahal, but at fifteen the news of Pran's true parentage is revealed and he is tossed out into the street—a pariah and an outcast. Thus begins an extraordinary, near mythical journey of a young man who must invent himself to survive—not once, but many times.

Imprisoned in a brothel and dressed in women's clothes, his sensuous beauty is exploited as he is made to become Rukhsana, a pawn in a game between colony and empire. To a depraved British major he becomes Clive, an object of desire taught to be a model English schoolboy. Escaping to Bombay he begins a double life as Robert, dutiful foster child to a Scottish missionary couple, and as Pretty Bobby, errand boy and sometime pimp to the tawdry women of the city's most notorious district. But as political unrest begins to stir, Pran finds himself in the company of a doomed young Englishman—an orphan named Jonathan Bridgeman. Having learned quickly that perception is a ready replacement for reality, Pran soon finds himself on a ship with Bridgeman's passport. First in London, then at Oxford, "the Impressionist" hones his chameleon-like skills, making himself whoever and whatever he needs to be to obtain what he desires.

The Impressionist
by Hari Kunzru

  • Publication Date: March 25, 2003
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Plume
  • ISBN-10: 0452283973
  • ISBN-13: 9780452283978