Silent Winds, Dry Seas is a sweeping debut novel that explores the intimate struggle for independence and success of a young descendant of Indian indentured laborers in Mauritius, a small multiracial island in the Indian Ocean.
In the 1950s, Vishnu Bhushan is a young boy yet to learn the truth beyond the rumors of his family’s fractured histories—an alliance, as his mother says, of two bankrupt families. In evocative chapters, the first two decades of Vishnu's life in Mauritius unfolds with heart wrenching closeness as he battles to experience the world beyond, and the cultural, political, and familial turmoil that hold on to him.
Through gorgeous and precise language, Silent Winds, Dry Seas conjures the spirit and rich life of Mauritius, even as its diverse peoples live under colonial rule. Weaving the soaring hopes, fierce love, and heart-breaking tragedies of Vishnu's proud Mauritian family together with his country's turbulent path to gain independence, Busjeet masterfully evokes the epic sweep of history in the intimate moments of a boy’s life.
Silent Winds, Dry Seas is a poetic, powerful, and universal novel of identity and place, of the legacies of colonialism, of tradition, modernity, and emigration, and of what a family will sacrifice for its children to thrive.
“The beauty of Busjeet’s splendid, often breathtaking book is, like the best stories of journeys to young adulthood, the precious and well-observed and heartbreaking details of day-to-day life.” —Edward P. Jones, Pulitzer Prize winning author of The Known World
“Set primarily on the island nation of Mauritius, Busjeet’s inventive debut ping-pongs through time, combining poetic passages with linked tales to tell a story of family, politics, and yearning. . . . Throughout, Busjeet consistently dazzles with Vishnu’s narration, conveying the character’s developing maturity, creativity—several poems by the narrator cover his early years—and deep feeling for people even tangentially in his orbit. This showcases a remarkable and confident writer.” —Publishers Weekly, (starred review)
“Amazing. . . . Busjeet writes with a great sense of humor and wisdom, evoking wonderful details of bygone life in Mauritius—religious customs, cuisine, culture clash, and comic as well as painful misunderstanding. . . . A vivid, poetic, and yes, even rhapsodic tribute to Mauritius.” —Josip Novakovich, 2013 Man Booker International Finalist
“Whether navigating the rigid caste society of Mauritius, where reputation and family honor mean everything, or learning the ropes of American academia and high finance, where money and power rule, Vishnu Bhushan is a picaresque hero worthy of Dickens. Silent Wind, Dry Seas is a complex, honest coming of age story.” —Stewart O’Nan, author of West of Sunset
“Silent Winds, Dry Seas is a classic coming-of-age novel—wise, tender, beautifully written, and utterly transporting. Vinod Busjeet is a gifted storyteller.” —Jennifer Haigh,author of Heat and Light
“Most American readers of Silent Winds, Dry Seas are unlikely ever to travel to Mauritius, but Vinod Busjeet’s evocation of the island a half century ago is so vivid and layered that they will feel, in the course of these remarkable pages, that they have made several extended and not-to-be-forgotten trips there. By turns tender and ironic, proud and self-deprecating, and written with superb clarity, this fine novel is replete with insights and pleasures.” —Thomas Mallon, author of Henry and Clara and Fellow Travelers
“This story of one young man's heart-wrenching—and often hilarious—journey from a colonial island steeped in ancient culture and customs to 1970's Connecticut, is rendered in a voice so wholly authentic—so wryly observant, so quietly intelligent and poetic, so intensely alive—that you cannot say at what point you have become completely addicted to it, only that you have. Busjeet’s narrator, Vishnu, is a bona fide literary creation, and Silent Winds, Dry Seas feels like discovery: wonderfully fresh and new at the outset, profoundly accomplished and wise in the end. You will not forget the experience of the first time you read this brilliant novel.” —Tim Johnston,author of Descent and The Current
“Magnificent. . . . With real talent, Busjeet leads you from hell to heaven, from the kingdom of childhood and innocence to an island world where narrow minds harbor petty hatreds and old secrets. . . . A splendid song to courage and dignity, a human and poetic adventure.” —Abdourahman Waberi, author of In the United States of Africa
“A pleasure to read; it has a terrific set of characters and situations, and the unknown landscape, for me, became part of the suspense of wondering what would happen next.” —Antonya Nelson, author of Nothing Right: Short Stories and Bound
“I’ve never read anything quite like Vinod Busjeet’s poetic and dreamy novel Silent Winds, Dry Seas. A true original, rich in both comedy and heart, about a Mauritian man’s coming of age by a writer of great power.” —Jeff Parker, Where Bears Roam the Streets
“In lyrical prose, Vinod Busjeet brings to life the island of Mauritius, braiding stories of childhood, family rivalry, and the eternal pursuit of freedom. Silent Winds, Dry Sea is a powerful debut humming with life, humor, and love.” —Alexander Weinstein, author of Universal Love