The Impressionist, Paperback
3.5 out of 5 (3 ratings)


The Impressionist is Hari Kunzru's sweeping novel of India, empire and identity.

In India, at the birth of the last century, an infant is brought howling into the world, his remarkable paleness marking him out from his brown-skinned fellows.

Revered at first, he is later cast out from his wealthy home when his true parentage is revealed.

So begins Pran Nath's odyssey of self-discovery - a journey that will take him from the streets of Agra, via the red light district of Bombay, to the brick cloisters of Oxford and beyond - as he struggles to understand who he really is. "Delectable, sweeping, empire-savaging, audaciously playful...Kunzru writes with wry certitude and cinematic precision". (The New York Times). "Grand, sprawling, extravagant, lyrical...A work so vibrant and richly imagined that you can smell the incense". (Esquire). "Epic in scale and rich in historical detail ...the narrative is deft and swift ...carrying the reader along effortlessly.

This first novel has startling depth, ambition and craftmanship". (Time Out). Hari Kunzru is the author of the novels The Impressionist, Transmission, My Revolutions and Gods Without Men, and the story collection Noise. He lives in New York.




Free Home Delivery

on all orders

Pick up orders

from local bookshops


Showing 1 - 3 of 3 reviews.

Review by

I thoroughly enjoyed the first two-thirds of this book. I thought Kunzru's evocation of early 20th century India and the sketches of the colonial administrators were delightful. In the last third where he got into life at Oxford and beyond the picture he created became more and more sketchy and less and less credible. My sense was that he was desperately trying to close a circle when his story wanted to go off in a different direction. Disappointing.

Review by

This novel is set in many areas of the British Empire during the WWI era. First in India, then moves to England, a short time in France and then to Africa. The main character is constantly changing shape to move forward in his life. I found the characters that surround him just as interesting. We see many different types of "anthropologists" and other educated English whose main goal is to show the differences between "us" and "them" I think it is worth reading for the descriptions of the places and the look back into the British empire from Kunru's point of view.

Review by

A great story, not so sure about the ending.

Also by Hari Kunzru   |  View all