House of Caravans


House of Caravans

A Novel

"A tale of kinship, violence, separation, and reunion, House of Caravans is rich and evocative"—ALLEGRA GOODMAN
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A marvelous debut novel exploring the fractures caused by the Partition of India, as well as the legacy and contemporary parallels of sectarian violence around the world.

Lahore, British India. 1943. As World War rages, resentment of colonial rule grows, and with it acts of rebellion. Animated by idealistic dreams of an independent India, Chhote Nanu agrees to plant a bomb intended for the British superintendent of police. Some four years later, following a torturous imprisonment, Chhote flees the city as it descends into violence. Carrying the young son of his murdered wife through scenes of unspeakable bloodshed, he encounters his brother, Barre Nanu, the two of them caught between a vanishing past in the new nation of Pakistan and a profoundly uncertain future in India.

Kanpur, India. 2002. Following the death of his grandfather, Barre Nanu, Karan Khatri returns from New York to join his sister in their childhood home, which has been transformed by the embittered Chhote Nanu into a hostel for Hindu pilgrims. When their mother arrives from Delhi, Karan and Ila learn that their fathers were two different men—one Hindu, one Muslim—relationships with both of whom were doomed by familial bias and prejudice, the siblings resolve to reconnect, and to understand the painful twist and turns in the family’s story.

Moving back and forth from the tumultuous years surrounding Partition to the era of renewed global sectarianism following 9/11, this extraordinary historical novel, “Tolstoyan in its scope” (Ha Jin), portrays a family and nations divided by the living legacy of colonialism. Richly evocative and timely, House of Caravans will endure in the ways only the best literature does.

Partition of India; 1947; 9/11; family; Islam; Hinduism; Islamophobia; nationalism; East India Trading Company; Lahore; Kanpur; colonialism; Pakistan; grief; betrayal; death; Kashmir War
Publish Date: 
9 × 6 × 1 in
17 oz

Shilpi Suneja is the author of House of Caravans. Born in India, her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and published in Guernica, McSweeney’s, Cognoscenti, and the Michigan Quarterly Review.

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Blog Post

Milkweed Staff – 05/17/2023

FAF2DBD4-A96B-40DB-9D52-83124C08318E.jpeg Shilpi Suneja's mother in Goa on her honeymoon. Shilpi Suneja's debut novel House of Caravans is filled with life...