06 Jan / All the Lives We Never Lived by Anuradha Roy [in Booklist]
In his mid-60s, Myshkin is finally about to understand what he’s been yearning to know almost his entire life. Since age 9, he’s been “known as the boy whose mother had run off with an Englishman,” never mind that he is actually German. Except for a brief first job in New Delhi, Myshkin has never left his family home, working as a small-town horticulturist all these years.
The arrival of a bulky package from Vancouver – “something to do with my mother” – triggers Myshkin’s memories of abandonment, the decades of loss and longing. In 1930s remote India, Myshkin’s spirited, artistic mother could not survive being married to his scholarly, pedantic father. To desert young Myshkin was never her intention, but her need for freedom carried her away.
With his mellifluous South Asian accent, his agile deep-to-falsetto pitch, Vikas Adam adapts effortlessly between older and young Myshkin, between desperate mother and bewildered son, revealing the debilitating separation across shifting borders, colonial aftermath, WWII and beyond. Empathically engaged, Adam persuasively reveals a half-century of a splintered family forever denied reunion.