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No God in Sight (MacAdam Cage, 2006)


Altaf Tyrewala was born in January 1977 at Byculla’s Masina Hospital, schooled at St Mary’s in Mazagaon, and studied commerce at HR College for three years before moving to New York in 1995 for a bachelor’s in business administration. No God In Sight is his debut novel.

In french

Bibliography :

  • No God in Sight (MacAdam Cage, 2006)

Summary of No God In Sight :

It begins with Mrs Khwaja, a one-time poetess who has long exchanged her metaphors for a life of cooking. A woman silenced by ’the hum of air-conditioned rooms and twenty-four-hour TV.’ From her voice, we move to that of her husband, Mr Khwaja, a man who knows the poetry no longer exists. Their son Ubaid spends hours online, chatting with strangers, looking for a place to belong. Their daughter Minaz has other demons to struggle with. She’s pregnant, and grappling with the idea of an abortion. Through these eyes, and with these thoughts, we take our first, hesitant steps into Altaf Tyrewala’s Mumbai.
It is a journey that comes via his debut novel, No God in Sight, the first pages of which plunge you into what feels like a strange place. Our focus shifts constantly, forcibly, from Minaz to her abortionist, from him to his father who works at a shoe store, from there to the store’s owner who wants to leave India forever. "Let them have it," he says, "let them have what they have killed clergymen for, razed mosques for, driven out fellow Indians for... Let them have their Hindustan for Hindus."
The novel moves from one first-person account to the next, incorporating monologues, headlines, anecdotes, vignettes. The book’s sleeve describes the cast of characters as unusual but, to be honest, they aren’t. They are the kind of people you could meet on a walk down any street in Mumbai, were you to look carefully, and this is what gives the novel its honesty. What emerges, layer by layer, is a picture of the larger forces at work in a major city. Forces that demand submission, and get it no matter what the cost.