A sweeping tale of love, nostalgia, and memory, moving through 1990s New Delhi and present-day London, Seahorse tracks one man's undying love for his former professor across time and place.
The seahorse is the only creature where the male is responsible for reproduction. Male seahorses bear their burdens, as does our protagonist Nem, a hero driven by his decades-long love for Nicholas, whom he met at a University in 1990s Delhi. Nem was not like his classmates, crowding around a TV set to watch music videos and talk about "doing it"; instead he opted for lonely walks around ruins. On one of these occasions he spied Nicholas, an enigmatic young professor from London, in the park with another male student.
With surprising ease, Nem seduces the much sought-after professor. It is in the wake of this brief but steamy affair, when Nicholas returns to London and Nem tries to continue with his life, that the story truly begins. Nem graduates from university and becomes a successful art critic, but his memories of Nicholas dominate his existence. After an invitation to speak at a conference in London, Nem's obsession with Nicholas returns. Still single, Nem wonders if this will be the opportunity to reconnect with his old and influential lover.
Instead, Nem is immediately swept up in London's cosmopolitan world, hobnobbing with the city's diverse artists and writers and enjoying the London club scene. Meanwhile, Nicholas artfully avoids any direct contact with Nem, instead orchestrating a series of clues that lead to Myra, a woman Nem had believed to be Nicholas's sister. Brought together by their love for Nicholas, Nem and Myra begin a friendship with surprising consequences.
Employing skillful, immersive prose, Janice Pariat explores the notion of emotional memory with the inquisitive mind of a scientist and the prowess of a poet.
Cover art by Patsy McArthur.
Praise for Seahorse
"Janice Pariat’s first novel has the piercing insight and linguistic felicity of her short fiction. It is an ardent and highly accomplished meditation on art, love and sexuality."
—The Sunday Guardian,
"An imaginative reinterpretation of the myth of the sea god Poseidon and his young disciple Pelops, Seahorse is a coming of age story that is unafraid of plunging into deep waters. This is the first full-length novel from Janice Parirat, whose collection of short stories BOATS ON LAND won the Crossword Book Award for Fiction in 2013. Effortless in its deconstruction of the concept of time, the nature of love and the inherent fluidity of sexuality, it’s a gentle yet utterly absorbing novel that slowly but surely draws you into its world."
—The New Indian Express,
"SEAHORSE is a confirmation of Janice Pariat’s talent. In its tracking of time and loss, it fulfills the promise of literature: that the reader while journeying through its pages is struck by a resonance, the echo of the lives of others to her own."
—The Indian Express,
"In SEAHORSE, Janice Pariat has offered us a novel that aspires to the seahorses’ magical dance—a novel that is not only about actions but about ideas; that aspires to place the quest for desire and beauty at the centre of the human experience."
—Tishani Doshi, author of EVERYTHING BEGINS ELSEWHERE,
"This elegant meditation on memory and desire is set in a world where love and absence go hand in hand. Read it for the luminous prose and listen for the click as character and destiny locks into place."
—Jeet Thayil, author of NARCOPOLIS,
"Janice Pariat is a startlingly brilliant and compassionate writer."
—Siddhartha Deb, author of THE BEAUTIFUL AND THE DAMNED: LIFE IN THE NEW INDIA,
"…an intense and well-crafted look at homophobia and human relationships."