> Skip to content
  • Published: 22 May 2014
  • ISBN: 9781448192182
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 528

The Lives of Others

An epic saga telling the story of a Bengali family in Calcutta – exploring a family that is decaying as the society around it fractures, and one young man who tries to reimagine his place in the world.

Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize

Shortlisted for the Costa Novel Award

Winner of the Encore Award

Shortlisted for the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature

Longlisted for the IMPAC Prize

Calcutta, 1967. Unnoticed by his family, Supratik has become dangerously involved in extremist political activism. Compelled by an idealistic desire to change his life and the world around him, all he leaves behind before disappearing is a note.
At home, his family slowly begins to unravel. Poisonous rivalries grow, the once-thriving family business implodes and destructive secrets are unearthed. And all around them the sands are shifting as society fractures, for this is a moment of turbulence, of inevitable and unstoppable change.

‘Deeply moving’ Amitav Ghosh

‘Terrifies and delights’ A S Byatt, Guardian

‘Unforgettable’ Daily Telegraph

  • Published: 22 May 2014
  • ISBN: 9781448192182
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 528

About the author

Neel Mukherjee

Neel Mukherjee is the author of two previous novels, A Life Apart (2010), which won the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain Award for best novel, and The Lives of Others (2014), which was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, the Costa Best Novel Award, and won the Encore Prize for best second novel.

Also by Neel Mukherjee

See all

Praise for The Lives of Others

Masterful … His fierce intelligence and sophisticated storytelling combine to produce an unforgettable portrait of one family riven by the forces of history and their own desires.

Patrick Flanery, Daily Telegraph

Rich and engrossing … Consistently vivid and well realised, it confidently covers a great deal of varied social terrain. … Unfailingly interesting

Theo Tait, Sunday Times

Very ambitious and very successful. … One of Mukherjee's great gifts is precisely his capacity to imagine the lives of others. … Neel Mukherjee terrifies and delights us simultaneously

A S Byatt, Guardian

Deeply affecting and ambitious ... In startling imagery that sears itself into the mind, The Lives of Others excellently exposes the gulf between rich and poor, young and old, tradition and modernity, us and them, showing how acts of empathy are urgently needed to bridge the divides.

Anita Sethi, Observer

Neel Mukherjee has written an outstanding novel: compelling, compassionate and complex, vivid, musical and fierce.

Rose Tremain

Full of acute, often uncomfortable and angry, observations, The Lives of Others is a picture of a family in all its disunity, and beyond it a city and country, on the brink of disaster.

The Times

A Seth-ian narrative feast with dishes to spare ... a graphic reminder that the bourgeois Indian culture western readers so readily idealize is sustained at terrible human cost

Patrick Gale, Independent

Expansive and often brilliant… Mukherjee spares the reader nothing…yet his command of storytelling is so astounding, he draws the reader into places they would prefer not to look

Claire Allfree, Metro

The writing is unfailingly beautiful … Resembles a tone poem in its dazzling orchestration of the crescendo of domestic racket. His eye is as acute as his ear: the physicality of people and objects is delineated with a hyper-aesthetic vividness ….

Jane Shilling, New Statesman

Neel Mukherjee has given us a picture of India that cuts through history, social classes and regions but centers on a nouveau pauvre family. Every scene is rendered with a Tolstoyan clarity and compassion.

Edmund White

A devastating portrayal of a decadent society and the inevitably violent uprising against it, in the tradition of such politically charged Indian literature as the work of Prem Chand, Manto and Mulk Raj Anand. It is ferocious, unsparing and brutally honest.

Anita Desai


Alexander Gilmour

Powerful… Mukherjee’s depiction of the tangled system…that develops when so many members of a family live under one roof is superb… In clear yet lyrical prose, Mukherjee carefully explores not just what it means to be part of a family, but what it means to be part of an unequal society… It’s impossible not to be utterly engaged by this intelligent and moving epic

Anna Carey, Sunday Business Post

Compelling, affecting, intelligent and surprising… Bold and striking… Worked out with precision and gracefulness… Ambitious and eloquent, and in forgoing exoticism captures genuine humanity

Stuart Kelly, Scotland on Sunday

The Lives of Others is searing, savage and deeply moving: an unforgettably vivid picture of a time of turmoil.

Amitav Ghosh (www.amitavghosh.com/blog)

The writing’s assured, considered and lucid, the author’s observations of character wry and acute. He has a real talent for revealing people’s true intentions and why they act the way they do

Jessica Croome, Curious Animal Magazine

Mukherjee creates a believable world where the jealousies and rivalries of one family are representative of the country

Good Book Guide

Memorably vivid and moving

Christie Hickman, Sunday Express

A powerful generational story of the chasm between the haves and have-nots


Related titles