HarperCollins is proud to announce the publication of The East Indian a novel by Brinda Charry


The East Indian is the Barnes and Noble Discover Pick of the Month and a Washington Post Noteworthy Book for May 2023

Published by HarperCollins

Paperback | INR 499

Available wherever books are sold | Releasing in India on June 8, 2023

NEW DELHI, June 1, 2023 /PRNewswire/ —

“Filled with memorable characters, The East Indian grapples with the brutal colonialism and indentured labor of the 1600s with warmth and wit. An entertaining novel that adds more heft to Brinda Charry’s already impressive oeuvre.” – Shashi Tharoor

“What a vast and wondrous ocean of a novel this is – throwing up the unexpected and startling, the horrifying and utterly beautiful, moving from shore to shore with spectacularly skillful narrative poise. To journey with The East Indian is to journey through a world shapeshifting into the modern, a world being ravaged and transformed. It is to be reminded that amidst the rough sweep and scour of history, what remains precious are these timeless, enduring things – friendship, kindness, healing.” – Janice Pariat


Meet Tony – compassionate and insatiably curious, with a unique perspective on every scene he encounters. Kidnapped and transported to the New World after traveling from the coast of India to the teeming streets of London, young Tony finds himself indentured on a Virginia tobacco plantation. Alone and afraid, Tony longs for home, and envisions a life after servitude full of adventure and learning. His dream: to become a physician’s assistant, an expert on roots and herbs, a dispenser of healing compounds.

Like the play that captivates him – Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which Tony saw at the Globe during his short time in London – Tony’s life is rich with oddities and hijinks, humor and tragedy. Set largely during the early days of English colonization in Virginia, Brinda Charry’s The East Indian gives authentic voice to an otherwise unknown historical figure and brings his world to vivid life.

Brinda Charry, the author, says: “The East Indian was inspired by an obscure figure named Tony who appears in the American colonial records – he might have been the first South Asian to reach what is now the United States, in the year 1635. The story follows him from his home on the Coromandel Coast to London and finally to the new English colony of Jamestown, Virginia. This aspect of the history of Indians traveling westwards in not widely known, either in India or elsewhere, and in writing Tony’s story I wanted to create a narrative of discovery, displacement, loss and longing. The East Indian is an adventure novel, a coming-of-age tale, an exploration of the fraught nature of racial identity and a story about the beginnings of globalized modernity. Tony’s world was a new world that was constantly making and remaking itself, much as he himself had to. While this is a work of fiction, I hope it engages as much as possible with the real, long-gone moment in which the people who inspired it lived. I also hope it will speak to modern readers of our historical moment, the one we inhabit today – a moment which bears the legacy of the world that was coming into being in the 1600s, when the first ‘East Indian’ arrived in America.”


“History comes alive in this brilliant, highly imaginative, and vivid novel. Immersive and revelatory – a stellar achievement.” – E.C. Osondu, winner of the Caine Prize for African Writing, author of This House Is Not for Sale

“Tony, the ‘East Indian’ of the title of Brinda Charry’s utterly enjoyable debut novel, reads like a character straight out of Dickens. Based on an actual historical figure, the first person from India documented in the records of Colonial Virginia, Tony ventures into the entangled richness of a nascent America – a place he calls, ‘this precarious edge of the world.’ It is peopled by ‘servants’ – both white and black, female and male – who find themselves as bound to the New World as they are to the Englishmen who rule it. Picaresque in style, lyrical of voice, gripping and authentic, The East Indian is a real treat.” – David Wright Falade, author of Black Cloud Rising

“Marvelous … Richly imagined characters and keen explorations of identity, place, and the power of imagination drive this luminous achievement.” – Publisher’s Weekly

The East Indian is a historical novel in the finest sense as it illuminates a time and place through the lives of fictional characters and imagined events with exceptional skill.” – The New York Journal of Books

“Few fictional narratives explore this era of American history and indentured servitude in the Colonies; Charry addresses this notable absence head-on, and her writing has a sophisticated elegance that aligns perfectly with the gravity of the novel’s contents. The result is a necessary and ultimately triumphant addition to the chronicles of American colonialism.” – Book Page


Brinda Charry went to the United States from India as a graduate student in 1999 and has been living there since. She is a novelist-turned-academic-returned-novelist. A specialist in English Renaissance literature (Shakespeare and contemporaries, with a focus on race, cross-cultural engagement in the 1600s and 1700s, and the early history of globalization), she has published a number of books and articles in that field. The East Indian is her first novel published in the United States. She currently lives in Keene, New Hampshire, with her husband.


HarperCollins is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, having begun publishing in India in 1992. HarperCollins India publishes some of the finest writers from the Indian Subcontinent and around the world, publishing approximately 200 new books every year, with a print and digital catalogue of more than 2,000 titles across 10 imprints. Its authors have won almost every major literary award including the Man Booker Prize, JCB Prize, DSC Prize, New India Foundation Award, Atta Galatta Prize, Shakti Bhatt Prize, Gourmand Cookbook Award, Publishing Next Award, Tata Literature Live! Award, Gaja Capital Business Book Prize, BICW Award, Sushila Devi Award, Sahitya Akademi Award and Crossword Book Award. HarperCollins India also represents some of the finest publishers in the world including Harvard University Press, Gallup Press, Oneworld, Bonnier Zaffre, Usborne, Dover and Lonely Planet. HarperCollins India has won the Publisher of the Year Award four times at Tata Literature Live! in 2022, 2021, 2018 and 2016, and at Publishing Next in 2021 & 2015. HarperCollins India is a subsidiary of HarperCollins Publishers.

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