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For a page-turning introduction to contemporary India, you’ll want to stay up all night reading The Poison Earrings. Sidd Burth’s crisp and humorous prose is as admirable as it is pleasurable to read. Burth covered seventy thousand kilometres by car on a quest to rediscover the soul of his country. This story is set in the tea-growing region of the country's scenic north east, California and Paris. It interweaves social turmoil into the lives of its central characters and thus turns it into an inside view of an unknown region while looking at the devastating effect of insurgency on a once peaceful society. Five talented friends- founders of a rock group, one of them is bisexual, another not quite sure about anything, after finishing their happy teenhood, escape with life to build their futures elsewhere only to meet with terrible consequences. It offers a sensitive account of cultural clashes in modern India while drawing a vivid picture of Americanised urbanism. The protagonist, with a questionable background, whose passions are driven by secrets, goes on to become someone in an ever-confusing world of whims and crimes. In course of time, the rest of the three friends disappear into a mysterious unknown except the girl he loves who reaches California. The middle part of the story, set in a posh neighbourhood in New Delhi, follows extra-marital fantasies and unbelievable activities of married people in an invisible social underbelly. In the end, the relationship of the two main characters turns out to be far more complex than they thought during their childhood. This book, having a passionate love for India at its heart, gives a lucid account of how the largest democracy of the world thinks and acts, and its society of wise men, gangsters, police, prostitutes, soldiers and corporate bosses affect everyday life of its people. The later part of the story, set in California, makes it not the usual showcase of professional climb of an immigrant woman- beautiful, elusive and dangerous, against the post 9/11 American absurdities. Later, when the reader travels through Paris and French countryside, Europe looks more beautiful than it actually is. Packed with laughter, it’s a moving tale of struggle, courage, survival and beauty. It is by any measure the debut of an extraordinary voice in literature.