Cover image for A bad character : a novel
A bad character : a novel
Kapoor, Deepti.
Personal Author:
First American edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2015.

Physical Description:
243 pages ; 20 cm
"The story of a twenty-year-old girl in New Delhi caught up in a dangerous love affair"--
General Note:
"Originally published in slightly different form in India by Hamish Hamilton...and subsequently in Great Britain by Jonathan 2014."--Title page verso.
Geographic Term:
Format :


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FICTION Adult Fiction Central Library
FICTION Adult Fiction Open Shelf

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A highly charged fiction debut about a young woman in India, and the love that both shatters and transforms her
She is twenty, restless in New Delhi. Her mother has died; her father has left for Singapore.

He is a few years older, just back to India from New York.

When they meet in a caf#65533; one afternoon, she--lonely, hungry for experience, yearning to break free of tradition--casts aside her fears and throws herself headlong into a love affair, one that takes her where she has never been before.

Told in a voice at once gritty and lyrical, mournful and frank, A Bad Character marks the arrival of an astonishingly gifted new writer. It is an unforgettable hymn to a dangerous, exhilarating city, and a portrait of desire and its consequences as timeless as it is universal.

Author Notes

DEEPTI KAPOOR grew up in Northern India and attended college in New Delhi, where she worked for several years as a journalist.  A Bad Character  is her first novel. She lives in Goa.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Kapoor's riveting debut novel follows a young woman's personal journey amid the shifting, often gritty landscape of modern-day Delhi. It's the year 2000, and the beautiful 20-year-old protagonist and narrator is in her second year of college, living under her aunt's care. A self-described loner, she has been struggling with feelings of displacement ever since the death of her mother when she was just 17, coupled with her father's subsequent abandonment. At a café one day, she is approached by an unnamed 27-year-old man to whom she is inexplicably drawn despite his unattractive physical features. She becomes fascinated by the stories he shares of years spent abroad in New York City and the sudden death of his parents, and their sexual attraction grows. Thus sparks an intense, at times discomfiting relationship that begins to pull the narrator away from her conventional life, as she becomes increasingly exposed and lured to the darker recesses of the city and its inhabitants. Kapoor's breathless novel is an intimate, raw exploration of her character's profound transformation.--Strauss, Leah Copyright 2014 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

The debut novel from Indian journalist Kapoor is a tightly rendered story of a young woman's awakening in contemporary India. The unnamed female narrator, "twenty and untouched" when her mother dies, is sent by her absentee father to be raised by an aunt. Living with her relative in a modest Delhi apartment, the girl begins to feel cramped by her boring university classes and her Aunty's endless attempts to arrange a marriage. One day she meets a rich, rebellious, darker-skinned young man from a different social class. She finds him "ugly," yet realizes "there's something of the animal in him," and subsequently begins a torrid affair with him. In clipped, haunting paragraphs, the girl tells of her discovery of whiskey, sex, and a gritty, thrilling India that she never knew existed. The tension that the affair will be exposed becomes almost unbearable; however, instead of delivering this impending confrontation with Aunty, Kapoor takes the story in darker and tragic directions. As the novel becomes more about the young woman wrestling with the effects of her relationships, the prose becomes more ruminative and elliptical. The story and the style are reminiscent of Marguerite Duras's The Lover, but when fused with the vivid Delhi scenes, Kapoor's novel ventures into exciting and original territory. (Jan.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Library Journal Review

This promising debut explores the intense, short-term relationship that the novel's young female narrator commences with the title's ostensibly "bad character." Idha's lover is unnamed, giving the dark-skinned, unattractive, moody, and wealthy youth an even greater air of mystery. He introduces Idha to a slice of Delhi life spiked with cigarettes, drugs, alcohol, and passionate sex. This slice is juxtaposed to the mundane, even sedate existence she leads with her aunt, who intends to marry her off to the first appropriate prospect who comes along. Kapoor seduces readers with the breathless pace of a first-person, nonlinear narrative told by a young woman desperate to escape the comfort of her present situation and a likely staid future as a married woman. The author describes Delhi with courage and without sentimentality, capturing the allure of forbidden but accessible fruit for Idha and thus for any young Indian woman. VERDICT The real appeal of this novel is that Kapoor never allows her young narrator a final resolution. Idha continues seeking her independence and pursuing bad characters, arguably including herself. Recommended as a counter to fiction that romanticizes contemporary India and especially the lives of women there.-Faye Chadwell, Oregon State Univ., Corvallis (c) Copyright 2015. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



My boyfriend died when I was twenty-one. His body was left lying broken on the highway out of Delhi while the sun rose in the desert to the east. I wasn't there, I never saw it. But plenty of others saw, in the trucks that passed by without stopping and from the roadside dhaba where he'd been drinking all night. Then they wrote about him in the paper. Twelve lines buried in the middle pages, one line standing out, the last one, in which a cop he'd never met said to the reporter, He was known to us, he was a bad character. It's a phrase they use sometimes, what some people still say. It's what they'll say about me too, when they know what I've done. Him and me, (long dead). Sitting in the café in Khan Market the day we met, in April, when the indestructible heat was rising in the year, sinking in the day, the sun setting very red, sacrificing itself to the squat teeth of buildings stretching back round the stinking Yamuna into Uttar Pradesh. The city is a furnace on days like these, the aching heart of a cremation ground. · · · But inside the café you wouldn't know it; inside it's cool, the AC is on, the windows are politely shuttered, it could be any time of day in here; in here you could forget the city, its ceaseless noise, its endless quarry of people. You could feel safe. Only he's staring at me. Twenty and untouched. It's a sin. For twenty years I've been waiting for this one thing. Idha. In the mirror. I give myself a name, I wear it out. Lunar, serpentine, desirous. A charm that protects me. Excerpted from A Bad Character: A Novel by Deepti Kapoor All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.