In The Pathless Sky, Chaitali Sen conjures a world in which a nation’s political turmoil, its secret history, and growing social unrest turn life into a fragile and capricious thing and love into a necessary refuge to be defended at all cost. A world, that is, not unlike the one we live in. John, a hapless young student with a potentially brilliant academic career ahead of him, and Mariam, a shy, preternaturally perceptive woman from the north, fall in love in college. Their early careers, their seemingly mismatched natures, and the alarming changes occurring in their country conspire to keep them apart for years. But a day comes when, across a great distance, both realize that they have always loved each other. During the intervening years, however, the troubles in their country have reached a critical impasse. Government crimes have been whitewashed, personal liberty is deeply compromised, a resistance movement has emerged from the underground to take the fight for freedom to the streets, and the government militia employs increasingly draconian measures in an attempt to maintain control. When Mariam is implicated in the latest spell of anti-government actions and arrested without appeal, the consequences of her and John’s love threaten to bring dire consequences for both. The Pathless Sky is a haunting and moving novel for readers of Michael Oondatjie’s The English Patient, Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Lowland, and the novels of Amitav Ghosh. Sen’s lyrical language and fluid storytelling mirror the rhythms of political struggle itself. John and Mariam are unforgettable characters, troubled lovers who struggle to find a space for the finest human emotions in a place that is determined to abolish them.
Chaitali Sen was born in India and moved to the U.S. at the age of two. She received an MFA from Hunter College. Her short stories have been published in The Colorado Review, New England Review, Juked, among others. She lives in Austin, Texas. This past summer she was awarded a Tennessee Williams Scholarship to attend the Sewanee Writers' Conference.