Title: In the Land of No Right Angles
Author: Daphne Beal
Release Date: August 12, 2008
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Rating: **** (out of 5)
From the back cover:
Alex, a twenty-year-old American student, is spending the year in Nepal, backpacking and taking photographs. As a favor to Will – her American friend – she uses one of her Himalayan treks to seek out Maya, a young Nepali woman eager to flee her traditional family to find work in Kathmandu. But helping Maya has unforeseen implications. Soon, Alex, Maya and Will are embroiled in a strange triangle, in which the lines between friendship, love, and lust grow more tangled each day.
In the Land of No Right Angles is Daphne Beal’s stunning debut novel: an evocation of the pitfalls of being both adventurer and savior in an unfamiliar world.
My favorite aspect of In the Land of No Right Angles is the vivid imagery of both Nepal and India. I’ve never traveled to Nepal, but because of Daphne Beal’s amazingly detailed descriptions, I can picture what it must be like. This must have taken an inordinate amount of research, especially considering the fact that Beal is neither Indian nor Nepali.
The book has an incredibly haunting quality that stems from the ghosts that the main character, Alex, must deal with. Her preoccupation with saving Maya from herself is an undercurrent that runs through the entire story. There is also a sense of suspense; there is much more going on behind the scenes than is apparent in the book, and Alex is aware of this. It leaves the reader with the desire to know and to understand what really is happening, what we can see glimpses of just beyond the shadows.
While I can’t say I enjoyed the subject matter of the book (I’m not going to ruin it for the rest of you by telling you what it is!), it was incredibly insightful and I feel like I learned a lot about the Nepali/Indian underworld. However, as the story is told solely from Alex’s point of view, the reader is only given the information she can glean from those around her.
At the end of the book, the reader is left wanting. Some of the questions posed through the book are answered, but many are not. Though this can be frustrating, the novel plays out like real life. I wish there had been a bit more of a resolution, and that some more of the earlier questions in the book had been answered, but I understand why Beal chose to end the book the way she did. It was an intriguing and mysterious book, and I definitely recommend it to anyone who has an interest in literature about the Indian subcontinent or Asia in general.