An epic, imaginative debut novel about family, modernity, technology, and what it means to be human, told through the soul of an Indian software engineer-entrepreneur and his daughter.
THE IMMORTAL KING RAO
by Vauhini Vara
W.W. Norton, May 2022
(via Writers House)
Will you, dear Shareholder, set Athena free? Athena Rao must reckon with the memory of her father, King Rao―literally. Through biotechnological innovation, he has given her his memories. His Dalit childhood on an Indian coconut plantation in the 1950s is as alive to her as her own existence in a prison cell, accused of her father’s murder.
Egocentric, brilliant, a little damaged, King Rao had a visionary idea: the personal computer known as the Coconut. His wife, Margie, was an artist with a marketing genius. Together they created a new world order, led by a corporate-run government. Athena’s future is now in the hands of its Shareholders―unless she can rejoin the Exes, a resistance group sustaining tech-free lifestyles on low-lying islands.
Lyrical, satirical, and profound, The Immortal King Rao obliterates genre to confront the digital age. This gripping, brilliant debut poses an urgent question: can anyone―peasant laborers, convention-destroying entrepreneurs, radical anarchists, social-media followers―ever get free?
Vauhini Vara has worked as a Wall Street Journal technology reporter and as the business editor for The New Yorker. Her fiction has been honored by the O. Henry Prize and the Rona Jaffe Foundation. From a Dalit background, she lives in Fort Collins, Colorado.