Celebrate the launch of Shekhar Paleja’s debut novel, a captivating family saga interlacing three generations of an Indian family as they strain against ancestral cords and wrestle with the expectations of an extraordinary destiny.
It’s 1947 in Lahore, and the Sharma family is forced to flee their home during the violence of the Partition of India. As the train tracks measure the ever-growing distance between Varoon and his mother, who vanished during the panic to escape, the boy is thrust towards an uncertain future.
Forty years later, Varoon’s grown son, Anush, desperately tries to disentangle himself from his father’s demands, which are mired in grief and whiskey. Compounding the pressure is an unusually auspicious kundali—a Vedic birth chart—which threatens to suffocate Anush with lofty expectations. But when he meets Nasreen, he feels he may finally be experiencing the incredible fate foretold. Until his father interferes and blocks his chance at true happiness.
Reminiscent of Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Lowland, this scintillating debut is the story of a son striving to honour his destiny and stay true to himself, a father mourning two tragic losses and crushing disappointment in his son, and a young woman exulting in newfound freedom while remaining bound by familial duty. Spanning fifty years and two continents, it reveals in nuances and layers how decades-old grief, seeded in a traumatic history and cultivated by generational rites, can rise up to strangle the sacred bond between ancestors and descendants.
Shekhar Paleja graduated from the University of Calgary with his bfa in Theatre, and has many film and theatre credits to his name. He has also published two children’s books, Native Americans: A Visual Exploration and Power Up! In November 2016 he wrote an op-ed piece for the Globe and Mail detailing his decision to stop whitewashing his name, which then spurred an invitation to discuss the importance of a name on cbc’s The Current with Anna Maria Tremonti. A resident of Vancouver, An Extraordinary Destiny is his debut novel.