About After the Tsunami:

"I wanted to show readers that even in the darkest of situations, when life seems impossible, there is always hope."

- Annam Manthiram

After the Tsunami: a novel

Stephen F. Austin State University Press, 2011

Siddhartha appears to have it all: a successful career as a schoolteacher in the United States, a perceptive wife, and a son and daughter who respect him as much as they adore him. But inside he struggles to find purpose in the brutality that continues to haunt him - the terror he faced as a child during his time spent in an orphanage in India.

After the Tsunami follows Siddhartha, an Indian man who cannot stop reliving his harrowing youth in India. At the fragile age of nine, he loses his family to a tsunami and is taken in by a boys' home, which is run entirely by "Mothers" who are physically and emotionally abusive. He quickly befriends Golicchio, a young storyteller whose imagination and benevolence provide respite. They form a connection so deep that their closeness at times is difficult to maintain. Siddhartha also bonds with an unusual band of boys: Puni, a child with unblinking eyes and an insatiable appetite; Ganesh, a large upper-caste boy with kindness in his heart; Peepa, a pre-teen more handsome than any movie actor; and Jaga-Nai, a mean, merciless bully who confides in Siddhartha after discovering a heartbreaking secret that binds them together. Their futures are linked, and thus they must depend on each other for a chance at an honorable life.

Siddhartha alternates between describing the traumatic conditions of his confinement as a child and his seemingly carefree life in America. His wife is a painter who accepts Siddhartha's grim past as her muse, and his son and daughter long to understand his childhood as a means of gaining their father's love and trust. It is only when his daughter, engaged to be married to an Indian man, asks Siddhartha to return to his homeland that he is driven to confront what happened to him and the other boys. Siddhartha knows that he must visit the orphanage one last time, and it is at his place of destruction where he will decide whether to finally let go of his past or be lost in self-inflicted torture forever.

Cutting in its clarity and profoundly insightful, After the Tsunami constructs an astute landscape of friendship despite depravity, compassion amidst horror, resiliency above misfortune. This is a powerful first novel of survival and redemption by a writer who is unafraid to take risks. Its honest, straightforward, and unflinching prose will haunt and move readers everywhere.