Ritwik Ghosh, twenty-two and recently orphaned, finds the chance to start a new life when he arrives in England from Calcutta. But to do so, he must not only relive his entire past but also try and understand it. Moreover, he must make sense of his relationship with his mother - scarred, abusive and all-consuming. But Oxford holds little of the salvation Ritwik is looking for. Instead he moves to London, where he drops out of official existence into a shadowy hinterland of illegal immigrants. However, the story that Ritwik writes to stave off his utter and complete loneliness - a Miss Gilby who teaches English, music and Western manners to the wife of educated zamindar - begins to find ghostly echoes in his life with his aged landlady, Anne Cameron. And then, one night, in the badlands of King's Cross, Ritwik runs into Zafar bin Hashm, suave, impossibly rich, unfathomable, possible arms dealer. What does the drive to redemption hold for lost Ritwik?
Set in 1970s and 80s India, 90s England and in the first decade of twentieth-century Bengal, "A Life Apart" is a scalding novel about dislocations and alienations, about the tenuous and unconscious intersections of lives and histories and about the consolations of storytelling. Above all, it is about the impossibilities of love.