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Kiese Laymon called Shruti Swamy’s debut book of stories, A House Is a Body, “one of the greatest short story collections of the 2020s.” Now, Swamy brings us an accomplished and immersive coming-of-age novel set in the Bombay of the 1960s and 1970s.
 
As a child, Vidya exists to serve her family, watch over her younger brother, and make sense of a motherless world. One day she catches sight of a class where the students are learning Kathak, a precise, dazzling form of dance that requires the utmost discipline and focus. Kathak quickly becomes the organizing principle of Vidya’s life, even as she leaves home for college, falls in love with her best friend, and battles demands on her time, her future, and her body. Can Vidya give herself over to her art and also be a wife in Bombay’s carefully delineated society? Can she shed the legacy of her own imperfect, unknowable mother? Must she, herself, also become a mother?

Intensely lyrical and deeply sensual, with writing as rhythmically mesmerizing as Kathak itself, The Archer is about the transformative power of art and the possibilities that love can open when we’re ready. 

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Shruti Swamy headshot

Shruti Swamy

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Review quotes

“This novel swallowed me whole. The Archer is the kind of book you always hope for: lush and sensual, tasted and felt, with striking images that play out like film behind the eyes. Swamy evokes an India that resists flat stereotype and teems with exuberance, beauty, and life. The Archer is timeless yet utterly modern as it asks what it means for a woman to make a life of art.”
C Pam Zhang, author of How Much of These Hills Is Gold
 
“Shruti Swamy is a writer to celebrate. Her fiction is provocative, precise, and gorgeously inventive.”
Megha Majumdar, author of A Burning
 
“This is a singular work, a story of a dancer, and of a hungry self seated at the table of womanness and desire and art, told with unparalleled originality and elegance. Swamy writes with a thrilling clarity of vision that wakes the sleepwalker right into joyful consciousness. Every word is intimate, honest, ecstatic—utterly alive.”
Meng Jin, author of Little Gods 

The Archer is a stunning novel, as intimate and visceral as an expertly executed dance. Swamy's arresting and immersive prose vibrates with attention, and does what the best writing does: it leaves me more alive in my own body, and renders the world around me richer—more layered—with meaning. Meditating on what it means to be an artist (and a woman), Swamy has created her own wondrous work of art—singular, unforgettable, and important.”
Rachel Khong, author of Goodbye, Vitamin

“Alive with desire, Shruti Swamy's prismatic language glimmers with the force that drives her characters to dance, beating against the restrictions of body, society, tradition, sexuality, and the fallible self toward a liberatory devotion to life. A gorgeous, taut, deeply embodied reading experience, The Archer further establishes Swamy as a writer of thrilling talent.”
Asako Serizawa, author of Inheritors

The Archer unfolds like an urgent dream, its heroine’s desire—for artistic transcendence, love, and liberation—its driving pulse. This novel, and the many keenly rendered moments within its pages (a swirl of bright fabric, the temperature of a lover’s skin, the abrupt chilling of a mood) lodged themselves in my consciousness long after. Shruti Swamy is one of the most gifted, excitingly unpredictable writers working today.”
—Mimi Lok, author of Last of Her Name

Product Details
Categories
Number of pages
304
Publication date
September 07, 2021
ISBN
9781616209902