Thursday, 26 November 2009
Martin Moir, former Head of the India Office Records, has written a novel entitled Not Exactly Shangri-la, which is due to be published by Rupa & Co. (New Delhi) in December.
Timothy, a diffident young British academic, and Huma, a feisty young woman from India, are two ‘foreign experts’ invited to Kalapur, a remote and apparently peaceful Himalayan country, to advise on the preservation and editing of an important monastic chronicle. But far from being a harmless academic project, they soon discover that the publication of the chronicle is being used by the authoritarian regime in Kalapur to suppress knowledge of a past that threatens its own legitimacy. Moreover, far from being peaceful, Kalapur turns out to be riven by a secret resistance movement led by guerrilla fighters known as the migos, named after the yetis or wildmen still believed to survive in the remoter parts of the country. Encouraged in their historical quest by a sympathetic but enigmatic local abbot, Huma and Timothy face some terrifying experiences before finally discovering what really happened in the recent past, and in the process deepening their own relationship.
At once adventure story, orientalist romance, psychological study and serious enquiry into different views of the past, Not exactly Shangri-la explores a fictional world that is deeply strange but strangely familiar, sinister yet funny.