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"The friendship between Renuka, a Bengali poet, and Rachel, an American missionary, lies at the heart of this novel. Two women from entirely different backgrounds, they share a bond that overcomes the barriers of nationality, race and religion. Both are exiled to a hill station, which is populated with provincial and prudish memsahibs, who adjust their recipes to compensate for the altitude and substitute ingredients from home. While Rachel’s husband works at a psychiatric hospital in the plains, in Ranchi, she looks after their sons who attend a mission school in the hills. While editing a cookbook, Rachel begins to realize the contradictions within her community. She also discovers the seductive voice of Renuka’s poetry… Renuka, Stephen Alter’s fourth novel, builds to a startling climax, while uncovering hidden truths about love, sexuality and passion. ‘In Renuka, Alter has drawn a remarkable portrait of a totally credible woman… he captures exactly the love-hate attitudes of Westerners who spend time in the subcontinent…A rare achievement to use a simple framework so effectively’—Sarah Curtis, Times Literary Supplement ‘Renuka is a most accomplished, utterly convincing study of two women of different backgrounds and contrasting temperaments…The book rises to a moving climax, followed by an adagio of “lingering sadness” like the aftermath of a “disturbing dream”…by far [Alter’s] best’—John Mellors Books by Stephen Alter Renuka Neglected Lives Amritsar to Lahore: Crossing the Border Between India and Pakistan All the Way to Heaven: An American Boyhood in the Himalayas Sacred Waters: A Pilgrimage to the Many Sources of the Ganga Elephas Maximus: A Portrait of the Indian Elephant Fantasies of a Bollywood Love Thief: Inside the World of Indian Moviemaking The Penguin Book of Modern Indian Short Stories (co-edited). Printed Pages: 232.