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Reviews and Press

Advance Praise for The City of Good Death

  • "...This character-rich, atmospheric novel, winner of the 2018 Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing, is a delightful mix of humor, heartbreak, and insight." Cindy Pauldine, the river's end bookstore

  • "Lush prose evokes the thick, close atmosphere of Kashi and the intricate religious practices upon which life and death depend. Rumor and superstition hold sway over even the most level-headed people, twisting what's explainable into something extraordinary―with tragic consequences…. The City of Good Death is a breathtaking, unforgettable novel about how remembering the past is just as important as moving on." Eileen Gonzalez, Foreword Reviews, Starred Review

  • "Champaneri's Kashi is teeming and vivid ... the book frequently charms, and it's as full of humor, warmth, and mystery as Kashi's own marketplace." Kirkus Reviews
  • "Keep watch, folks. This novel asks big, big questions about what we believe, what we assume, how we love, what family means, and the ways in which ritual makes reality and vice versa." Ilana Masad, author of All My Mother's Lovers
  • "This is an insightful look at the Hindu traditions surrounding death and 'funerals' in the Holy City of Kashi. We go inside the hostel and see the life of Pramesh and his family, as they faithfully attend to the families coming with the bodies of their loved ones. But when a corpse shows up after being found in the river, it is not easy to '…Not look back. Detach,' as they always tell the family members. There is a history here and their own family is soon embroiled in an emotional turmoil that changes everything. This is a remarkable cultural story but also one of common humanity. Book clubs will want to give it a look." Linda Bond, Auntie's Bookstore

  • "I was transported to India by this debut novel for which the author won the Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing. Well deserved, too. A recurring theme is looking back or not looking back and the consequences of both. Moving story of cousins who are more like twin brothers growing up with their two abusive, denigrating fathers. And the choices each makes. Don't pass this one up." Barbara Lubin, White Birch Books

  • "The City of Good Death is an expansive novel about the proprietor of a death hostel, Pramesh, in India' s sacred city of Banaras, where Hindus come to die a holy death, and the sweeping journey of discovery he embarks upon after finding his cousin and childhood best friend drowned in the Ganges. Priyanka Champaneri beautifully explores the sacred and the afterlife in this cinematic and emotionally gripping work about living and dying with dignity. A first-generation immigrant who was born and raised in the United States, Champaneri draws on her personal navigation of identity and culture, reconciling her Indian heritage and Hindu faith with her Western upbringing. The City of Good Death confronts family, religion, and belonging in ways that reflect Champaneri's cultural dualities. It's a novel full of compassion, as Champaneri deftly navigates Pramesh's relationships with his dying patrons as he himself struggles to understand the ramifications of his cousin's death. Introducing readers to an unforgettable cast of characters who all cross paths in Pramesh's hostel on this holy pilgrimage, this ambitious novel offers readers a unique insight into the Hindu concepts of the afterlife and the sacred, and the universally recognizable desire for empathy and understanding." Téa Obreht and Ilan Stavans, citation for the Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing

Other Press