June 2020

Latitudes of Longing

by Shubhangi Swarup

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Why We Chose It

The plot is experimental, sweeping, epic. It’s made up of four linked novellas, spans several generations and cuts back and forth in time and across India—from an island to a valley, a city, and a snow desert. It’s driven by love stories of various natures, and you keep reading in part to see what will happen to the characters and how all their stories fit together. Will they always struggle? Will they find intimacy? Joy? Will they find the answers they are looking for? All of the characters live around a tectonically active fault line and have different, significant relationships to science, the natural world, and mysticism. A central question of the book: Why did the universe begin—and what’s our purpose in it? Where do our stories begin and end? This one is spellbinding. (Read an excerpt and get your copy today: You can see all retailers selling the book here.)

Latitudes of Longing by Shubhangi Swarup

Bookshop, $24



Our chief content officer, Elise Loehnen (from her home in Los Angeles), chatted with author Shubhangi Swarup (from her home in Mumbai).

About the Author

Shubhangi Swarup is a writer and educator. Latitudes of Longing, her debut novel, became a bestseller soon after its release in India. It won the Tata Literature Live! Award for debut fiction, was shortlisted for the JCB Prize for Indian Literature, and was longlisted for the International Dublin Literary Award 2020 and the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature. Swarup was awarded the Charles Pick Fellowship for creative writing at the University of East Anglia and has also won awards for gender sensitivity in feature writing. She lives in Mumbai.

Shubhangi Swarup

Photo courtesy of Nikhil Hemrajani

A Q&A with Shubhangi Swarup

All of the characters in your book are connected by a tectonically active fault line. Where’d you get that idea?

The idea came so long ago that I can’t remember the exact moment. My mother grew up in the Andaman Islands. As a child, I loved listening to all her bedtime stories. She’s a marvelous storyteller. She would tell me about these tropical islands that jut out of the ocean. But she told me that they’re actually mountain peaks and not islands, and that they’re connected to Himalayas. And I found that quite fascinating.

On the summit of Mount Everest, we have found marine fossils. The highest place on earth. To find something that originated in the ocean millions of years ago at that height, to me, that’s mind-blowing. Like, what happened? That piece of information could set off so many stories.

Nature has a lot of intrigue. We’ve come nowhere close to answering all the puzzles that natural history and the planet offer us. There are connections that I cannot fathom. These are different landscapes. They are connected in fundamental ways. They are not connected superficially. The more I traveled, the more connections I saw. And that’s what I wanted to base the novel on. When I conceived the novel, I conceived the fault line as the spine. The stories, the characters, the locations, everything came after that.



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