The Cosmopolitans

Qayenaat is a drifting, solitary, sensitive figure at the edge of the Bangalore art scene. When world famous artist Baban Reddy, once a young man who hung on her every word, returns to the city to show his latest artwork, all her old longings rise to the surface. Baban’s arrival accompanies other momentous events and sets Qayenaat off on the most unexpected journey of her life – to the heart of rural, war-torn India, in search of genuine experience, and into a relationship with the unlikeliest of men.

The Cosmopolitans is a novel of ideas and emotions – one that questions the place of art in modern life, and draws a vivid portrait of a woman at odds with the world. Tender and wry in equal measure, and rich in thought and insight, it confirms Anjum Hasan as one of our most exciting novelists today.

"Skillfully interweaving India’s many separate and rapidly changing worlds, Anjum Hasan brings an ironic and subtle intelligence to a great novelistic theme: superfluous men and women lurching out of a decayed old order, exposed to the conflicts and tensions of an endless transition."Pankaj Mishra

"Perspicacious, funny, and at times profound, The Cosmopolitans gives us an unusual, compelling portrait of India today precisely because it shuns the well-worn formulations of the "state-of-the-nation novel". An ambitious and oddly tender book by a poised, highly intelligent writer." Amit Chaudhuri

Hamish Hamilton India | 2015 | 400 pagesBrio Books Australia | 2016
Shortlisted for the Sahitya Akademi Award 2019
Shortlisted for the Crossword Fiction Award 2016

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From the reviews

“Fiercely intelligent…Hasan, who made us aware of the mastery of craft in her debut novel … now gives us a novel of ideas, one that is utterly necessary.”
Indian Express

“Engaging, uplifting read… an author at the peak of her powers.”
Mint Lounge

“That rare thing: a novel of ideas… it has been quite some time since a novel has been so intellectually provocative.”
India Today

“Hasan’s precise poetic voice soars…scrupulous and affectionate and a joy to read.”

“A book of constant surprises…Hasan’s deceptively simple and elegant prose, her lush and graphic descriptions throw open arcane concepts…”

The Cosmopolitans is an intellectual novel, and punctures with sophistication the eponymous quiet cosmopolitanism of its nature and structure, with several clever surprises.”

“The prose is rich, nuanced and riveting. A writer’s writer, Hasan’s prose can stimulate the average reader as well the discerning one…The Cosmopolitans is a precious novel, to be read, shared, discussed and revisited every once in a while.”
New Indian Express

The Cosmopolitans is an unusual read in the ways it holds up a mirror to contemporary India but, despite its low-keyed satire, it is not an easy novel. It reminds us of too many things we should address but would rather let alone.”
Hindustan Times

“Through Qayenaat’s adventures, Hasan amply demonstrates the anxieties of a nation in transition and raises questions which the already so-called developed countries should be asking themselves.”
Asian Review of Books

The Cosmopolitans holds surprises and enlightenment in every page.”
Mail Today

“Just like her previous works, Hasan’s poetic prose resonates with the reader the entire length of the book.”

“In stepping into a wider context than the one [Qayenaat] knows, she remains unlike most recent heroines of IWE writing. It is her individualism and love of ideas that are worth celebrating.”

“Ambitious, yet intimate, novel of ideas… [Qayanaat is] an appealing and important character in a country obsessed with success.”
The Wire

“Her protagonist and her choice of subject matter both stand out, because they don’t fit into conventional Indian literature.”
Deccan Chronicle