Penguin Random House India

New Delhi, December 2019; Penguin Random House India announces the upcoming publication of Commonwealth Book Prize and DSC Prize winning and internationally bestselling author Shehan Karunatilaka’s second novel Chats with the Dead. Acquired by Penguin Random House India, this book will published under the Hamish Hamilton imprint, home to some of the most distinguished titles in literary fiction. Chats with the Dead will be released in January of 2020 along with the 10th anniversary edition of Chinaman, Karunatilaka’s award winning debut.

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A classic whodunit with a brilliant twist, this work of fiction is based on renegade war photographer Maali Almeida, who is tasked with solving his own murder. Embroiled in red tape, memories of war, and his own ethical dilemmas and constantly interrupted by the overly chatty dead folks breezing through the afterlife, Almedia struggles to unravel his own death.

Author of the book Shehan Karunatilaka says, ‘Sri Lanka’s always been cursed with great violence. But 1989 was a particularly perfect storm of terrors. The Tigers, The Army, The Indian peacekeepers, The JVP terrorists and State death squads were all killing each other at a prolific rate.1989 was a time of curfews, bombs, assassinations, abductions and mass graves and seemed the perfect setting for a ghost story, a detective tale or a spy thriller. Or so I thought.’

A compulsively readable dark comedy of life, death and everything in between, Chats with the Dead searingly exposes the plight of a country caught in the aftermath of civil war. Its deliciously compelling absurdity holds you in thrall right from the very first page up to its startling denouement, constantly upending its own premise with its staggering humanity.

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Manasi Subramaniam, senior commissioning editor and head of literary rights at Penguin Random House India, who acquired the book from David Godwin Associates, says, ‘The almost-hero, forever conflicted, is such a difficult character to manage – and yet Shehan Karunatilaka makes him not just likeable but also someone to root for. It’s a masterful work of modern philosophy that – through all its deft acrobatics through the living and the dead – insists on being uproariously funny.’

Meru Gokhale, Publisher of Penguin Press, Penguin Random House India, says, ‘Ten years ago, Shehan Karunatilaka’s debut novel took the world by storm, becoming that rare literary work that was both critically acclaimed and a bestseller. Sri Lanka and the world have changed so much in the decade since then, and in this brilliant new novel, he does it again – it’s a page-turner that chronicles a deadly time in the civil war through the lens of a seemingly unsolvable murder plot’.

Shehan Karunatilaka is a Sri Lankan writer whose first book Chinaman won the Commonwealth Book Prize, the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature, and the Gratiaen Prize, and was shortlisted for the Shakti Bhatt First Book Prize.

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