The Opium Clerk
Hiran is born in 1857: the year of the Mutiny and the year his father dies. Brought to Calcutta by his widowed mother, he turns out to have few talents apart from an uncanny ability to read a man's lies in his palm. When luck gets him a job at an auction house, Hiran finds himself embroiled in a mysterious trade and in the affairs of his nefarious superior, Mr Jonathan Crabbe, and his opium-addicted wife. An unlikely hero, Hiran is caught up in rebellion and war, buffeted by storms at sea, by love and intrigue, innocently implicated in fraud and dark dealings.
"A first novel of rare assurance, imaginatively set and richly textured with tales that spin away into elliptical orbits. Basu's evocative descriptions conjure the magic and heartbreak of the East...It is a phantasmagoric world, rich in stories, visions and dreams, not unlike those inspired by the heinous drug itself" Times Literary Supplement