"Vivid and engrossing...a work of fiction that seems not only universal but absolutely cosmic." —Francine Prose, Elle
At the opening of this masterful debut novel, Vishnu, the resident odd-job man, lies dying on the apartment building staircase he inhabits, while his neighbors, the Pathaks and the Asranis, argue over who will pay for an ambulance. As the action spirals up through the floors of the building, the dramas of the residents' lives unfold: Mr. Jalal's obsessive search for higher meaning; Vinod Taneja's longing for the wife he has lost; the comic elopement of Kavita Asrani, who fancies herself the heroine of a Hindi movie.
Suffused with Hindu mythology, this story of one apartment building becomes a metaphor for the social and religious division of contemporary India, and Vishnu's ascent of the staircase parallels the sours progress through the various stages of existence. As Vishnu closes in on the riddle of his own mortality, he begins to wonder whether he might not be the god Vishnu, guardian not only of the fate of the building and its occupants, but of the entire universe.