Shortlisted for the 2016 William Saroyan International Prize for Writing
It is 1554 in the desert of Rajasthan. On a rare night of rain, a daughter is born to a family of Hindu temple dancers just as India’s new Mughal Emperor Akbar sets his sights on their home, the fortress city of Jaisalmer, and the other Princely States around it.
Fearing a bleak future, Adhira’s father, the temple’s dance master—against his wife and sons’ protests—puts his faith in tradition and in his last child for each to save the other: he insists that Adhira is destined to “marry” the temple’s deity and to give herself to a wealthy patron. Thus she must live in submission as a woman revered and reviled. But Adhira’s father may not have the last word. Adhira grows into an exquisite dancer, and after one terrible evening she must make a choice—one that will carry her family’s story and their dance to a startling new beginning.