In Custody Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of In Custody

This is a novel about a small-town man, Deven, who gets the opportunity to go interview his hero, the great poet Nur, the greatest living Urdu poet. Having always loved Urdu poetry and missed the chance to be an Urdu language professor, he is charmed into going to Delhi the big city. Even though he shrinks at the idea of possibly being exploited by his sharp and selfish friend Murad, the dream of meeting Nur draws him on. So he sets off on a number of adventures on Sundays, the one free day that he should have spent with his wife and son.
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What Deven finds at his hero's house is misery and confusion. Having sunk into a senile old age, surrounded by fawning sycophants, married to a younger calculating wife who wants to use his glory to win herself fame, Nur is not what he once was. Or perhaps he always was this.

Deven, a shrinking and weak man, is somehow drawn to this old poet, wishing to help and protect him even as he cannot defend himself. Perhaps it is the tie of Urdu poetry that he remembers from his treasured times as a child with his father.

In order to save the name and works of Nur for posterity, he decides to record his voice on tape for his small-town university. In the process Deven is exploited monetarily and emotionally, where Nur's family and hangers on demand money to keep themselves happy, Murad refuses to pay him for submissions to his self-proclaimed literary magazine. His wife Sarla is indignant at his time away, his fellow professors think he is having an affair in Delhi or push him to get a taping of Nur's voice. The saddest part is the result of the sessions. Drunk and encouraged by his admirers who follow him along to the sessions, Nur offers nothing new or novel.

The review of this Book prepared by Shaleen

Chapter Analysis of In Custody

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Plot & Themes

Tone of book?    -   thoughtful Time/era of story    -   1980's-1999 Life of a profession:    -   writer Is this an adult or child's book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book Job/Profession/Status story    -   Yes

Main Character

Gender    -   Male Profession/status:    -   teacher Age:    -   20's-30's Ethnicity/Nationality    -   Indian Indian Unusual characteristics:    -   Super sensitive soggy jelly muffin


How much descriptions of surroundings?    -   9 () City?    -   Yes City:    -   dirty, grimy (like New York) Small town?    -   Yes

Writing Style

Amount of dialog    -   significantly more descript than dialog

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Anita Desai Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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