The Sly Company of People Who Care A Novel

Rahul Bhattacharya




Trade Paperback

288 Pages



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In flight from the tame familiarity of home in Bombay, a twenty-six-year-old cricket journalist chucks his job and arrives in Guyana, a forgotten colonial society of raw, mesmerizing beauty. Amid beautiful, decaying wooden houses in Georgetown, on coastal sugarcane plantations, and in the dark rainforest interior scavenged by diamond hunters, he grows absorbed with the fantastic possibilities of this new place where descendants of the enslaved and indentured have made a new world. Ultimately, to fulfill his purpose, he prepares to mount an adventure of his own. His journey takes him beyond Guyanese borders, and his companion will be the feisty, wild-haired Jan.

In this dazzling novel, propelled by a singularly forceful voice, Rahul Bhattacharya captures the heady adventures of travel, the overheated restlessness of youth, and the paradoxes of searching for life’s meaning in the escape from home.


Praise for The Sly Company of People Who Care

“[The Sly Company of People Who Care]'s heart lies in the exuberant and often arresting observations of a man plunging himself a world full of beauty, violence and cultural strife. It's impossible, reading Bhattacharya, not to be reminded of V.S. Naipaul.”—Dinaw Mengestu, The New York Times Book Review

“Bhattacharya’s gift for reproducing the rhythms and intricacies of his characters’ speech . . . places him in the company of Mark Twain. He understands the world by listening to it.”—The New Yorker

"A deft synthesis of travelogue and bildungsroman, by turns antic and introspective . . . so satisfying." —The Wall Street Journal

"The Sly Company of People Who Care is a travel novel that reads like award-winning journalism . . . From the novel’s very first line, we know we’re in the care of a narrator unmatched in his lyricism and sensitivity."—Alice Gregory, The Boston Globe

"So original and spirited, so thrillingly alive . . . An exhilarating first novel."—Minneapolis Star Tribune

"A love letter to Guyana . . . The Sly Company of People Who Care is beautifully written and brims with charm . . . Fascinating."—Financial Times (London)

"Bhattacharya's writing bursts with as much passion as the tropical downpours he describes . . . Some of the most beguiling prose to emerge from the Caribbean."—The Guardian (London)

“This ferociously gifted writer has already been hailed as the natural successor to the great Naipaul—and yes, he is that good.  His narrator has a charming, confident voice that engages instantly and his descriptions of landscapes and people are ravishing.”—The Times (UK)

“An exceptional first novel, which leaves the reader to decide where facts lie and fiction rings true . . . A madcap cast of original characters abound . . . Their explicit, rum-infused patois, more potent than V.S. Naipaul's Caribbean-speak, is addictive . . . It is certainly the best first novel by an Indian I have read in a long time.”—Outlook India

“What a voice, what a startling, funny, charming, provocative voice! Rahul Bhattacharya’s narrator is a true wanderer and a gifted poet of description. The journey he takes us on, through Guyana, through histories and selves, is a wonder.”—Sam Lipsyte, author of The Ask

“Words as musical notes, a book as symphony . . . An exotic locale and lyrical language make for a dazzling debut.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred)

“[The Sly Company of People Who Care] is a lovingly delicate study of Guyanese culture, in which Bhattacharya captures the restlessness of youth, the yearning for new experiences, and the driving need of travelers to go beyond their own internal borders.”—Booklist

“In vigorous yet lyrical prose employing a pungent vernacular, Bhattacharya describes Guyana's horrid heat and thunderous rain in sensuous detail . . . Bhattacharya's distinctive voice, which incorporates both Guyanese and Indian dialects, results in an authentic and sybaritic tale.”—Publishers Weekly (starred)

Reviews from Goodreads



Read an Excerpt

PART ONE1LIFE, as we know, is a living, shrinking affair, and somewhere down the line I became taken with the idea that man and his world should be renewed on a daily basis. Those days I liked thinking in absolutes – life, man, the world – but people like to be specific about things. Hence, my actions were a little difficult to explain. To be a slow ramblin’ stranger! It made perfect sense to me.I still had to make friends, and my first one was Mr Bhombal, a waterworks technician. Mr Bhombal was, like me, an Indian national. Bhombal was his first name, yet I took to calling him
Read the full excerpt


  • Rahul Bhattacharya

  • Born in 1979, Rahul Bhattacharya is the author of the cricket-tour book Pundits from Pakistan, which was voted one of the Ten Best Cricket Books of all time in The Wisden Cricketer (London). He lives in Delhi, India. This is his first novel.

  • Rahul Bhattacharya © Sonali Bhattacharya