The Immortal King Rao
‘A brilliant and beautifully written book about capitalism and the patriarchy, about Dalit India and digital America, about power and family and love’ Alex Preston, Observer, ‘Fiction to look out for in 2022’
Vauhini Vara’s lyrical and thought-provoking debut novel begins in India in the 1950s, following a young man born into a Dalit family of coconut farmers in a remote village in Andhra Pradesh. King Rao, as he comes to be known, later moves to the US, where he studies in Seattle, meeting the love of his life and his business partner, the smart and self-assured Margie. King Rao ultimately rises up through Silicon Valley to become the most famous tech CEO in the world and the leader of a powerful, corporate-owned global government. Yet he ultimately ends up living on a remote island off the coast of Washington state, an exile from the world which he has helped build.
There, in a beautiful home on an otherwise deserted island, he brings up his brilliant daughter, Athena. Shielded from the world’s glances, in many ways she has an idyllic childhood, but she will be forced to reexamine her father’s past and take steps to try to decide her own future. She is unlike other girls, and she will find the outside world much more hostile than her father did when he left the coconut grove he called home.
A profound and moving novel about technology, consciousness and revolution, The Immortal King Rao asks how we build the worlds in which we live, and whether we ever have the power to leave them?
A monumental achievement: beautiful and brilliant, heartbreaking and wise, but also pitiless, which may be controversial to list among its virtues but is in fact essential to its success. Vara respects her reader and herself too much to yield to the temptation to console us. How rare these days as a reader - and how bracing, in the finest way - to encounter a novel that refuses to treat you like a child or a studio audience. If that were the only thing to love about Rao, it would probably be enough. But as I've said, there's also everything else. * New York Times Book Review * A brilliant and beautifully written book about capitalism and the patriarchy, about Dalit India and digital America, about power and family and love. -- Alex Preston * Observer, 'Fiction to look out for in 2022' * In this richly imagined saga spanning past, present, and future, Vara brings us a visionary who makes the world in his image, and the strong-willed daughter whose life could be his final legacy. Vara's brilliance is matched only by her heart, and this unforgettable debut will challenge what you think you know about genius, capitalism, consciousness, and what it means to be human. -- Anna North, New York Times bestselling author of OUTLAWED A fully imagined world: propulsive, prophetic, dizzying. -- Jeet Thayil, author of NARCOPOLIS Utterly, thrillingly brilliant. From the first unforgettable page to the last, The Immortal King Rao is a form-inventing, genre-exploding triumph. Vauhini Vara's bravura debut has reshaped my brain and expanded my heart. -- R.O. Kwon, author of THE INCENDIARIES Vauhini Vara comes out the gate with a masterwork: a book that is three great novels in one: the tale of a thriving and chaotic Dalit clan in the first decades of independent India; an immigrant success story in '80s America; and a dystopian nightmare of the post-Trump future. -- Karan Mahajan, author of THE ASSOCIATION OF SMALL BOMBS An astonishing debut. An amazing imagination. Vara's voice is thrilling, original, dynamic and ever-surprising as her characters move from world to world, from the real to the fantastic, examining the myriad contradictory shapes in which love can appear. -- Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, author of THE LAST QUEEN The Immortal King Rao is an odyssey of the grandest scale, spanning over half a century and charting a Dalit immigrant's rise to world power. Vauhini Vara fuses intricate family lore with the history of tech solutionism and capitalist demagoguery, pointing forward to a dangerously likely future of corporate dominion; she writes with the meticulous clarity of a longform journalist, the explosive force of a Trident missile, and the ambition of her own brilliant protagonists. -- Tony Tulathimutte, author of PRIVATE CITIZENS Vara's potent debut revolves around a global society run by a corporate board...This is not to be missed. * Publishers Weekly (starred review) *
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