Sen, Chaitali. The Pathless Sky. Europa. 2015. 320p. ISBN 9781609452919. pap. $17; ebk. ISBN 9781609453015.
Brilliant yet somewhat feckless John Merchant meets Mariam at college, and their on-again, off-again affair unfolds against the backdrop of political and military violence in their unnamed country. Mariam is from the north, marginalized and scorned, and John tries to protect her from news of government bombings there, even as he becomes momentarily involved with her roommate. The narrative carries this star-crossed couple from first kiss and breakup to reunion, marriage, a lost child, and student protests at the college where they work that entrap Mariam and leave John struggling to save more than their marriage. VERDICT The paralleling of political and personal tensions makes this well-written if longish debut particularly effective; readers who like big-picture novels will enjoy.