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A Speck of Coal Dust : Winner of a Betty Trask Award

By Rohit Manchanda

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About the book

‘Remarkably accomplished … unforgettable’ – AMIT CHAUDHURI

‘Finely-paced [and] richly observant’ – ADIL JUSSAWALLA

‘Deeply personal and profoundly historical’ – SAIKAT MAJUMDAR

‘Spectacular’ – KHUSHWANT SINGH


First published in 1996 as In the Light of the Black Sun and long unavailable, Rohit Manchanda’s debut novel, A Speck of Coal Dust, is one of the finest coming-of-age narratives in Indian-English writing and a forgotten classic.

Set in the coal-mining regions of eastern India, this exquisitely crafted work follows Vipul, the eleven-year-old son of a mine manager, as he awakens to the mysteries of life in a backwater town marooned in time. He finds in his environs much to marvel at, to dread, to love and to cherish, while a motley cast of characters – oddball friends, capricious teachers, a comics-loving swami, missionaries, and tinpot rogues – floats into and out of his life.

Here, Vipul’s eyes are opened to the smallness, and at once the grandeur, of the arena he inhabits and its place in the larger world, even as he learns his early lessons of cruelty and kindness, the glories and severities of nature, and sensual stirrings laced with guilt…

Pages: 240

Available in: Paperback

Language: English

Rohit Manchanda

Rohit Manchanda spent his childhood in the coalfields of Jharkhand and did his doctorate from the University of Oxford. He is a professor at IIT Bombay where he researches computational neurophysiology and, in a parallel world, writes fiction. His first novel was published as In the Light of the Black Sun in 1996, and is being republished titled A Speck of Coal Dust simultaneously with a new novel, The Enclave. He has also authored Monastery, Sanctuary, Laboratory, a history of IIT Bombay. Manchanda has won several awards for his teaching, including an INSA Teachers Award, and for his writing a Betty Trask Award and a Tibor Jones South Asia Prize.

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