Book details

The Fertile Earth

A Novel

Author: Ruthvika Rao

The Fertile Earth

The Fertile Earth

About This Book

An unforgettable story of love and resistance surrounding two young people born across social lines, set against a tumultuous political landscape in India.

Vijaya and...

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Book Details

An unforgettable story of love and resistance surrounding two young people born across social lines, set against a tumultuous political landscape in India.

Vijaya and Sree are the daughters of the Deshmukhs of Irumi. Hailing from a lineage of ancestral aristocrats, their family’s social status and power over villagers on their land is absolute. Krishna and Ranga, brothers, are the sons of a widowed servant in the Deshmukh household.

When Vijaya and Krishna meet, they forge an intense bond that is beautiful and dangerous. But after an innocent attempt to hunt down a man-eating tiger in the jungle goes wrong, what happens between the two of them is disastrous, the consequences reverberating through their lives into young adulthood.

Years later, when violent uprisings rip across the countryside and the Marxist, ultra-left Naxalite movement arrives in Irumi, Vijaya and Krishna are forced to navigate the insurmountable differences of land ownership and class warfare in a country that is burning from the inside out—while being irresistibly drawn back to each other, their childhood bond now full of possibilities neither of them are willing to admit.

The Fertile Earth is a vast, ambitious debut that is equal parts historical, political, and human, with the enduring ties of love and family loyalty at its heart. Who can be loved? What are the costs of transgressions? How can justice be measured, and who will be alive to bear witness?

Imprint Publisher

Flatiron Books



In The News

"What a marvelous writer Ruthvika is. Her characters are so vivid and passionate, the stakes are so high and the history so complicated. The Fertile Earth is a compulsively readable novel." —Margot Livesey, New York Times bestselling author of The Flight of Gemma Hardy

"The Fertile Earth is the kind of novel that you find yourself wanting a friend to read alongside you, to share in the beauty, tragedy, triumph and heartbreak of the world brought to life within its pages. Ruthvika Rao has crafted an astonishing, intelligent epic set during the early decades of post-Independence India, a story filled with moral complexity, intertwined fates, awakenings and romance. Reading The Fertile Earth it's clear that Rao is not only a sophisticated storyteller but an impressive prose stylist—her sentences sing. This is a novel you will not be able to forget." —Angela Flournoy, author of The Turner House, finalist for the National Book Award

"From its unforgettable opening pages, The Fertile Earth held me spellbound. At its heart is a transgressive love story that dares to bloom in a world of caste-based violence, vengeance, and political transformation. Ruthvika Rao is a fearless writer, and her debut is nothing short of dazzling." —Tania James, author of Loot, longlisted for the National Book Award

"What a rich, deeply memorable novel. The Fertile Earth beautifully explores loyalty and love, violence and politics and ideology, promises and returns and the arbitrariness of origin—not to mention the inextricable histories of family and nation. This is an inspired, gorgeous book, and Ruthvika Rao’s storytelling has a confident, compassionate intelligence—I’d follow her bright voice anywhere." —Natalie Bakopoulos, author of Scorpionfish

"Bold, sensual, and captivating, The Fertile Earth pits love against memory, love against class, love against politics, love against time, love against all. Read it, and find out which one wins." —Shobha Rao, author of Girls Burn Brighter, longlisted for the 2018 Center for Fiction First Novel Prize

About the Creators

The Fertile Earth

The Fertile Earth