Excerpt: The Folded Earth

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November 16, 2011 by markstani

This is a short excerpt from The Folded Earth by Anuradha Roy, longlisted for this year’s MAN Asian Literary Prize. It is reproduced courtesy the publishers, Quercus Books, and the author.

The sky over our heads here in the mountains has not the immensity of the sky I grew up with in the Deccan, where it spans the entire planet, broken only by the building-sized boulders that sit here and there on the open flatland of the plateau as if a giant’s child had collected them from the giant’s river and dropped them like marbles onto a playing field. In the hills the sky is circumscribed. Its fluid blue is cupped in the palm of a hand whose fingers are the mountains around us. We too are cupped in its palm and while there is a feeling of limitless distance, we have at the same time the sense that here on our hill is where life begins and ends. Here is where sky begins and ends, and if there are other places, they have skies different from our sky.

Our town spans three hills. It is far away from everywhere and very small. If you look at it from the other side of the valley at night, you see darkness dotted here and there with yellow lights half-hidden by trees. On every side there are mountains and forests, stretching many miles, interrupted only by tiny hamlets and villages so small that they might have just five houses and nothing but a foot-beaten path connecting them to the main road miles away.

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