From The New York Times:

ArunLate in this quietly mesmerizing novel, set in a Himalayan hill town in the north of India, Anuradha Roy describes the crystalline beauty of the peaks in winter, viewed long after the haze of the summer months and the fog of the monsoon, held in secret for those who choose to brave the cold: “After the last of the daylight is gone, at dusk, the peaks still glimmer in the slow-growing darkness as if jagged pieces of the moon had dropped from sky to earth.” In the mountains, one of Roy’s characters observes, “love must be tested by adversity.” It’s the inherent conflict in human attraction — the inescapable fact that all people remain at heart unknown, even to those closest to them — that forms the spine of the novel. In marrying a Christian, the narrator, Maya, has become estranged from her wealthy family in Hyderabad. But after six happy years together, her husband has died in a mountaineering accident. Rather than return to her parents, she seeks refuge in Ranikhet, a town that looks toward the mountains that so entranced her husband. Overcome with grief, she stows away his backpack, recovered from the scene of the accident, and refuses to inspect its contents. She can’t bear to know the details surrounding his death.

In Ranikhet, Maya settles into a routine: teaching at a Christian school; spending time with her landlord, Diwan Sahib; and observing the sometimes comic rhythms of the village and its army garrison. Roy manages to capture both the absurd and the sinister in even minor characters, like a corrupt local official who embarks on a beautification plan that includes posting exhortatory signs around town. (One, meant to welcome trekkers, is vandalized to read “Streaking route.”) His crusade, inspired by the Sing­aporean Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, who embraced caning as a punishment, also includes the persecution of a simple-­minded but harmless herder. Of course, a sedate world exists only to be shaken, and soon enough the town is disturbed from all sides.

More here.