‘Never been on such an emotional roller coaster. Thanks for giving me such a great time. May your efforts continue to be touched by magic.’
— Naseerudin Shah
‘Alchemy is not a literary fiction. It is a force of nature. It soars above all competition.’
— Mikel Dunham
‘A startling work of Nabokovian fiction’
— Hindu

Written from within the skin of India, The Alchemy of Desire is a novel quite unlike any other, with a power and weight of feeling one almost never encounters in contemporary literature. It celebrates the manic spirit of a country in a time of great change; and also offers in searing, lucid prose, a deeply sensual and moving meditation on the nature of desire, history, truth and art.

Set against the brilliantly drawn backdrop of India at the turn of the millennium, The Alchemy of Desire tells the story of a young couple, penniless but gloriously in love. Obsessed with each other, they move from a small town to the big city, where the narrator who dreams of being a writer works feverishly on a novel, stopping only to feed his ceaseless desire for his beautiful wife.

But sensing that his writing is specious, the narrator is deeply restless. Seeking refuge, his wife and he buy an abandoned cottage in a mist-shrouded spur of the lower Himalayas. The house is to be a symbol of their love, but things begin to rapidly fall apart. During renovations a chance discovery triggers a strange energy, and the man finds himself irresistibly drawn away from his wife and thrust into another world and time. Into the hole of history. Slowly he begins to uncover dark secrets, until startling truths are laid bare and all certainties are overturned. Soon he is alone, surrounded by the debris of his life and great love, confronting his unwritten magnum opus and the darkness that is threatening to swamp him.

Inventive, playful, heartbreaking. The Alchemy of Desire is at once intimate and oracular, brimming with ideas and unforgettable characters. It captures the polyphonic voices of India with an empathy and authenticity rarely achieved before. This is a major novel by one of the most significant new voices of his generation.


"A bold, sensual novel about art, inspiration and the disintegration of a relationship...Tejpal's writing is unpredictable yet strikingly disciplined, and his explorations of matters physical and spiritual point out often painful truths."
                  - WASHINGTON POST

"Amid the endless cascade of semi-genuine Indian novels by Indian Americans comes the real thing, The Alchemy of Desire, a kaleidoscopic first novel by a top Indian journalist, erotically rooted in the country."