An Atlas of Impossible Longing

A Novel

An Atlas of Impossible Longing

“This is why we read fiction at all” raves the Washington Post: Family life meets historical romance in this critically acclaimed, “gorgeous, sweeping novel” (Ms Magazine) about two people who find each other when abandoned by everyone else, marking the signal American debut of an award-winning writer who richly deserves her international acclaim.

On the outskirts of a small town in Bengal, a family lives in solitude in their vast new house. Here, lives intertwine and unravel. A widower struggles with his love for an unmarried cousin. Bakul, a motherless daughter, runs wild with Mukunda, an orphan of unknown caste adopted by the family. Confined in a room at the top of the house, a matriarch goes slowly mad; her husband searches for its cause as he shapes and reshapes his garden. As Mukunda and Bakul grow, their intense closeness matures into something else, and Mukunda is banished to Calcutta. He prospers in the turbulent years after Partition, but his thoughts stay with his home, with Bakul, with all that he has lost—and he knows that he must return.
  • Free Press | 
  • 336 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781451608625 | 
  • April 2011
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Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for An Atlas of Impossible Longing includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


Set in the outskirts of a small town in Bengal, in the mid-20th century, An Atlas of Impossible Longing is a multi-generational novel that weaves together a family’s story of romance, abandonment, forgiveness, and desire. Told in three powerful parts, the book explores what it means to live with the ghosts of the past, deal with an ever-changing present, and strive toward a blissful future that always seems just out of reach.


  1. “The silence that to Amulya meant repletion locked Kananbala within a bell jar she felt she could not prise open for air.” (p. 16) The move from busy Calcutta to secluded Songarh is life-changing for both Amulya and Kananbala, though in very different ways. Discuss how each is affected by the change.
  2. “He would look at [the plants] tenderly, wanting to stroke and pat them . . . He had created a garden where there had been wilderness” (p. 23). Describe Amulya's relationship to nature thro
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About the Author

Anuradha Roy
MacLehose Press

Anuradha Roy

Anuradha Roy is the award-winning author of The Folded Earth and An Atlas of Impossible Longing, which has been published in sixteen countries and named by World Literature Today as one of the sixty most essential books on modern India. She lives in India.