A remarkable journey—part pilgrimage, part romantic odyssey—down India’s mightiest river, the Ganga.
Nishant, a young Indian writer living in Paris, is haunted by the memory of an enigmatic Parisienne who claims to be two persons—Jaya and Nadja. He decides to journey down the Ganges, from its source in the Himalayas to where it meets the sea, with a desire to write about this voyage and his memories of Jaya. On the banks of the Ganga, he meets Zehra, an irresistible dancing girl in the tradition of the great tawaiffs, who performs in a nearby brothel. Zehra resurrects the memory of Jaya.
With Jaya and Zehra inhabiting his mind, Nishant undertakes an entrancing journey down the Ganga replete with unexpected encounters with sadhus, boatmen, engineers, vernacular journalists, pimps, administrators, Bollywood stars like Amitabh Bachchan, and the omnipresent pandas.
When Jaya Ganga was first published in French, it created more than a stir in literary circles. It was hailed as a unique travelogue-novel which brought the author’s inner and outer worlds effortlessly together.
Jaya Ganga was adapted in cinema in 1995. A cult film today, Jaya Ganga, written and directed by Vijay Singh, played for a record 49 weeks in the UK and France after being screened in 40 other countries.
‘If you want something labelled travel, pick quality spiced stuff, like Vijay Singh’s Jaya Ganga... Chatwinesque.’
—Veronica Horwel, The Guardian (London)
‘Almost a new style of writing is born: less cerebral and convoluted than Rushdie, less formal than Anita Desai, less clever than Vikram Seth but certainly more wholesome and fulfilling for the modern Indian soul.’
—Aman Nath, The Times of India
‘A journey that teaches you to swim through the enigmas of this world.’
—Jean-Claude Carrière (Oscar-winner), Liberation
‘Poetic, mystical, metaphysical, humorous, erotic, erratic, this book is a complete portrait of India.’
—Yves Florenne, Le Monde Diplomatique
‘Beyond the present, this journey is a pilgrimage to the very source of religion, art and history. It is a meditation on time and the tragedy of existence... Jaya Ganga, whose baroque effervescence at times brings Umberto Eco to mind, is not just one of the most original books of recent times, it also heralds the birth of a writer.’
—Michelle Perrot, Le Nouvel Observateur
‘This novel is the very air that India breathes. Its great quality is to inspire thought.’
—Antoine Spire, Le Matin
‘Jaya Ganga is a literary event, the revelation of an immense talent.’
—J.B., La Montagne
‘A shocking adventure—mystical, romantic, erotic.’
—Jean-Paul Ribes, Actuel
About the Author
Vijay Singh is an Indian novelist, screenplay-writer and filmmaker living in Paris.
After studying history at St Stephen’s College, Delhi, and the Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi, he moved to Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris, for his doctoral work.
Since the early eighties, he has written extensively for Le Monde, Le Monde Diplomatique, Libération, The Guardian and other international and Indian newspapers.
Vijay Singh is the author of several internationally acclaimed books, including, In Search of the River Goddess, La Nuit Poignardée, Whirlpool of Shadows and The River Goddess. In a selection made by the Booker Prize-winner Barry Unsworth, Whirlpool of Shadows was listed in the Sunday Times (UK) as ‘Best Book of 1992’. His books have been translated into French and other European languages.
Over the last two decades, he has written and directed five acclaimed films which have been showcased at scores of international film festivals, often in competition. He is currently working on several projects, including his next feature, The Palace Symphony, which is adapted from his novel Whirlpool of Shadows.