From the Nobel laureate–a spare, searing new novel about identity and idealism, and their ability to shape or destroy us.
Willie Chandran–whom we first met in Half a Life–is a man in his early forties who has allowed one identity after another to be thrust upon him, as if he could truly know himself by becoming what others imagine him to be. His life has taken him from his native India to England, Africa in its last colonial moment, and Berlin, until finally it returns him to his homeland. Succumbing to the demanding encouragement of his sister–and his own listlessness–Willie joins an underground movement in India ostensibly devoted to unfettering the lower castes. But seven years of revolutionary campaigns and several years in jail convince him that the revolution “had nothing to do with the village people we said we were fighting for…[that] our ideas and words were more important than their lives and their ambitions for themselves.” And, as well, he feels himself further than ever “from his own history and…from the ideas of himself that might have come to him with that history.”
When Willie returns to England where, thirty years before, his psychological and physical wanderings began, he finds the fruit of another unexpected social revolution (more magic seeds), and comes to see himself as a man “serving an endless prison sentence”–a revelation that may finally release him into his true self.
Magic Seeds is a masterpiece, written with all the depth and resonance, the clarity of vision and precision of language, that are the hallmarks of this brilliant writer. - Source: Powell's Books