Novel looks at impact of new Indian city on future

Michigan-based writer Oindrila Mukherjee’s debut novel, “The Dream Builders,” creates a kaleidoscopic portrait of a group of acquaintances, friends and lovers vying for happiness, success, connection and respect in the fictional, upstart city of Hrishipur near New Delhi in northern India. Mukherjee chronicles an eventful summer in Hrishipur through the experiences of 10 characters whose lives intersect. She grounds the novel in the perspective of Maneka, a professor of literature at a Midwestern university who comes home to India to visit her father.

Maneka grew up in the city then known as Calcutta, on the southern coast. Her parents moved to Hrishipur so her mother could work as a French teacher. They sold their flat and began making payments on a condo in a planned complex, but the building was never constructed and they lost most of their savings, a common problem in Hrishipur. Maneka never managed to visit them in the new city before her mother died, and so when she arrives to see her widowed father, she is disoriented. She is meant to be working on a collection of essays about contemporary India, but as she marvels at the dynamic city, her topic keeps evolving.

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