In the formally recorded, not long history of South Asian immigration to the West, certain events and years have become vital markers. Sunil Gangopadhyay’s Blood – whose English translation by Debali Mookerjea-Leonard brings the book a new set of readers in the 2020s – is set in 1965, with most of its action centred in London and Calcutta, though its unhappy, angst-prone Tapan Roy lives in the US.

The year was crucial for the passing of the Immigration and Nationality Act (or the Hart-Celler Act) that freed immigration from earlier “discriminatory” quotas in place from the 1920s, such as those based on “national origins”. Among other things, the Act also encouraged immigrants with special skills and professional achievements; Tapan found himself to be a special draw in these circumstances.

California, where Tapan has been a research scholar in nuclear physics, doesn’t feature much in this novel, apart from a lone chapter where Tapan recounts his friendship with his bohemian, good-natured friend Ted, who is confused and intrigued about most things Indian, especially what he senses of its spiritualism and history. Yet, his acknowledgement of, and preoccupation with, the cruelty his own British tea planter ancestors inflicted on their estate workers does not arouse a similar indignation...

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