Following the form of the raga in Indian classical music, Amitav Ghosh slowly builds the tempo of The Circle of Reason. The first part spans several decades, the second unfolds over a few weeks, and the third, like a scherzo, races through a day. Ghosh's debut novel centres on Alu, an orphan enlisted by his foster father as a soldier in his crusade against the forces of myth and unreason. Suspected of terrorism, they are about to be arrested when a tragic accident forces Alu to flee his village. Pursued by a misguided police officer, Alu finds his way through Calcutta to Goa and on to a trawler that runs illegal immigrants to Africa. Tracing Alu's journey across two continents, The Circle of Reason is an exceptional novel by one of India's most celebrated writers in English.