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Prayaag Akbar

Soon to be adapted for the screen as a Netflix Original, this tale of motherly love blends the page-turning urgency of The Girl in the Red Coat with the political force of Slumdog Millionaire to create a searing parable of a novel about what happens when the few live at the expense of the many…

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Leila does for the barbarity of contemporary Indian nationalism what The Handmaid’s Tale did for the yoke of patriarchy. It is urgent, gripping, topical, disturbing, and announces a talent we’ll be talking about for years to come. – Neel Mukherjee

Soon to be adapted for the screen as a Netflix Original

Every year on Leila’s birthday Shalini kneels by the wall with a little yellow spade and scoops dry earth to make a pit for two candles. One each for herself and for Riz, the husband at her side.

But as Shalini walks from the patch of grass where she held her vigil the man beside her melts away. It is sixteen years since they took her, her daughter’s third birthday party, the last time she saw the three people she loves most dearly: her mother, her husband, her child.

Critic Reviews

‘Intelligent, chilling, and deeply moving, Leila shows us a future that it both highly imaginative and all too believable.’

Kamila Shamsie
Critic Reviews

[A] beautifully written debut novel – at its heart, it’s a desperately moving, heartfelt exploration of a mother’s pain and grief.

The Pool
Critic Reviews

A deeply moving and emotional read, Leila also resonates on so many current political levels it’s uncanny – the separation of migrant children in the US, the building of walls, India’s religious violence. Already picked up by Netflix for adaptation, this book is where we are right now.

Emerald Street
Critic Reviews

‘India is often shown as getting by in spite of a talent for chaos. And not just the nuttiness of commuting by train roof, say, but all the caste faultlines, dietary requirements and who knows what other folkloric rulings people navigate daily. In Leila, an autocratic “Council” has clamped down on everything, and made things even worse. In the near future, a megalopolis has been chopped into high-walled zones based on precise cultural distinctions. Affluent liberal Shalini marries outside of her community, but the Council aren’t having that. They snatch her child – Leila – and intern Shalini. She begins a search for her daughter, only now without her many privileges to help her. Sixteen years later, she’s still looking . . .’

Strong Words

Prayaag Akbar was born in Kolkata in 1982. He studied economicsat Dartmouth College and comparative politics at the London School of Economics. His award- winning reporting and commentary have examined various aspects of marginalisation in India. He works as a consulting editor with Mint, a leading Indian newspaper. He lives in Mumbai.

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