A State of Freedom


“A writer who can envelop you in the worlds he creates, and whose piercing eye for detail can send you reeling … He seeds his tales with images of unexpected beauty … an extraordinary account of the tenacious will to survive.” The Times.

“A meticulous, unhurried observation of the minutiae of everyday existence, and of the undercurrents of darker meaning that move beneath those surfaces. … Dostoevsky-like in its juxtaposition of unbearable cruelty with an equally unbearable yearning for security and love. … Combined with Mukherjee’s rich realisation of the novel’s individual elements, this indeterminacy makes A State of Freedom a powerful, memorable treatment of a theme too often reduced to uninvolving didacticism.” Adam Lively, Sunday Times.

“His best work yet. … This bleak and entirely justified vision of modern India is what binds together Mukherjee’s stories and indeed his oeuvre. In an arid landscape so inimical to the hopes and dreams of the majority, even those who fight to improve their lives will fail.” Sonia Faleiro, Financial Times.

“Mukherjee… homes in on the restless, the disinherited, the socially trapped… Mercilessly observant, he does not spare the reader but leavens scenes of savagery, squalor and despair with moments of rainbow vividness, all the more striking for the muddy, cacophonous backdrop from which they are brought forth… In a significant and porous work, Mukherjee gives congruence and visibility to these fractured, hidden lives.” Catherine Taylor, New Statesman.

“Neel Mukherjee’s fiction about class is as good as Jane Austen’s was 200 years ago. … He does what good novelists should, which is to hold up a mirror to society and remind people that what passes for normal is often barbaric. His quiet observation is effective – and damning.” The Economist.

“Set in contemporary India, technically daring, deeply compassionate, it’s a powerful, pertinent novel about migration and social injustice.” Sarah Waters, The Guardian.

“Mukherjee isn’t a polemicist, although there is plenty to be polemical about. His world is textured and complex. … Each story is intimate and universal, concrete and elusive… A State of Freedom is ambitious, and it succeeds on all levels. … Mukherjee strikes at the centre of things by engaging with the periphery.” Eoin McNamee, Irish Times.

“Narrated with the precise realism that we have come to expect of Neel Mukherjee’s novels… A State of Freedom resonates with intricate and disturbing echoes… Mukherjee has created an India that is always graspable and always elusive.” Tabish Khair, Times Literary Supplement.

“A brilliant novel, deeply compassionate and painterly, reminding me of Howard Hodgkin’s paintings. Mukherjee brings to life the colours and sounds of a place where modern life is constantly crashing against tradition.” A.M. Homes, The Observer.

“Bleak and beautifully written.” Anthony Cummins, The Observer.

“Mukherjee’s characters are so well drawn and their plights so affecting that we stop quibbling over how to categorise the book [as collection of short stories or novel] and simply lose ourselves in masterful storytelling … Random bouts of cruelty … unfold in electrifying prose.” Malcolm Forbes, Herald.

“Very powerful, very well written”. Geoffrey Durham, Saturday Review, BBC Radio 4.

“A thing of wonder … does what a great novel should do … one of the most wonderful novels I’ve read for ages and ages … such wonderful high calibre writing”. Deborah Moggach, Saturday Review, BBC Radio 4.

“Brilliant … I couldn’t put it down … everything about it rang true … so gripping, so thrilling”. Kate Williams Saturday Review, BBC Radio 4.

“The beauty of Mukherjee’s prose sucks the reader into an alternative world, where misery, deprivation and the struggle to exist another day are normal.” John Harding, Daily Mail.