WE THAT ARE YOUNG
WE THAT ARE YOUNG
Published 10 August 2017
Read the first chapter here.
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Winner of the 2018 Desmond Elliott Prize
Shortlisted for the Jan Michalski prize
Shortlisted for the republic of consciousness prize
Longlisted for the Jhalak Prize
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Praise for We that are young
‘Revelatory. Urgent and irresistible. … One of the most exquisite and original novels of the year.’ (The Sunday Times)
‘We that are young is like nothing else. Its daring is outrageous.’ (Literary Review)
‘Urgent and exhilarating… We that are young cuts rage with poetry – and produces a memorable national epic.’ (The TLS)
‘Brilliant… finely crafted… Taneja has given us that rarest of beasts: a page-turner that is also unabashedly political.’ (The Guardian)
‘A remarkable picture of contemporary India… Taneja’s sensuous writing brings women’s predicaments to life – [and issues] a chilling warning.’ (The Irish Times)
‘Misogyny, religious and caste prejudice, plus the madness of money all make for a magnificent, dark and satirical drama.’ (Marie Claire)
‘Sharp, cogent and evocative… the great appeal of We that are young concerns the serving of justice: discovering who gets what, as opposed to who deserves what.’ (The New Statesman)
‘Wonderful… Looks set to hold a mirror to our times.’ (The Observer)
‘Taneja’s novel is big, beautiful, and most of all bold: a rewriting of King Lear, transplanted to modern-day Delhi, which is both a dazzlingly original reading of the play and a full novel in its own right. A masterpiece.’ (The Spectator)
‘We that are young… paints a picture of India we won’t easily forget. An instant classic.’ (The Times of India)
‘We that are young grapples with colonial inheritances, gender roles, nationalism… And it manages to do all this while remaining a riveting page-turner.’ (The Hindu)
‘Taneja maintains layers in her writing that overreach the simple fantasies to which we are accustomed to. …. A shining achievement.’ (The White Review)
‘Gripping and finely plotted… I found myself closing the book from time to time to catch my breath, to make sense of the quiet terror Taneja can make one feel.’ (Scroll.in)
‘Explosive, tumultuous and tender… We that are young stands tall as a tragedy of women.’ (Open Magazine)
‘A fiercely political, revelatory read… One of 2017’s finest debuts.’ (Phoenix)
‘The best book set in India since A Suitable Boy. Taneja writes gloriously.’ (Backlisted)
‘Intense, detailed and engrossing… As if reworking Shakespeare’s King Lear weren’t enough of a challenge, Preti Taneja also tasks herself with turning the epic power-struggle into a call to arms for social change.’ (The Asian Review of Books)
‘Issues of gender and generation spearhead the conflict in this mammoth drama of money, succession, and control, British-born Taneja’s impressive first work of fiction… Engaging, relevant, and very dark.’ (Kirkus Reviews)
‘A novel on the grand scale but not grandiose: wide in its cultural reference, profound in its resonance, lofty in moral judgement… We that are young is as remarkable to the ear as it is revelatory to the soul.’ (Desmond Elliott Prize for Fiction)
‘We that are young is a powerful, engrossing, generous chronicle of family and politics in contemporary India, perfectly constructed, magnificently written by a novelist with a silver ear and a golden voice.’ (Jim Crace)
‘In years to come, Preti Taneja will be known as one of the UK’s most important writers.’ (Nikesh Shukla)
‘Utterly absorbing, vital and ambitious.’ (Irenosen Okojie)
‘In a brilliant, sharp adaptation, Preti Taneja shows her profound understanding not just of Shakespeare and India, but of human nature itself. Heartbreaking. A poetic tour de force.’ (Vishal Bhardwaj)
‘An instant classic. Stunning. Gripping. Before I run out of praise – just read it.’ (Rishi Dastidar)
‘With We that are young Preti Taneja has written an enthralling, brave, and very important book.’ (Maureen Freely)
JIVAN SINGH, the bastard scion of the Devraj family, returns to his childhood home after a long absence – only to witness the unexpected resignation of the ageing patriarch from the vast corporation he founded, the Devraj Company. On the same day, Sita, Devraj’s youngest daughter, absconds – refusing to submit to the marriage her father wants for her. Meanwhile, Radha and Gargi, Sita’s older sisters, are handed the Company… And so begins a brutal, deathly struggle for power, ranging over the luxury hotels and spas of New Delhi and Amritsar, the Palaces and slums of Napurthala, to Srinagar, Kashmir.
Told in astonishing prose – a great torrent of words and imagery – We that are young is a modern-day King Lear that bursts with energy and fierce, beautifully measured rage. Set against the backdrop of the anti-corruption riots in 2011–2012, it provides startling insights into modern India, the clash of youth and age, the hectic pace of life in one of the world’s fastest growing economies – and the ever-present spectre of death. More than that, this is a novel about the human heart. And its breaking point.
PRETI TANEJA was born in the UK to Indian parents and spent most of her childhood holidays in New Delhi. She has worked as a human rights reporter and filmmaker on Iraq, in Jordan, Rwanda, and Kosovo, and her work has been published in the Guardian and Open Democracy. A fellow at Warwick University, in 2014 Preti’s novella Kumkum Malhotra won the Gatehouse Press New Fictions Prize. She is also the editor of Visual Verse and was selected as an AHRC/ BBC Radio 3 New Generation Thinker for 2014.