Written in Jha's exquisitely crafted and beautiful, precise prose, If You Are Afraid of Heights offers the reader a glimpse into a looking-glass world where nothing is quite what it seems and yet everything is strangely familiar. A man and a woman meet in a midnight road accident and fall in love. A reporter arrives in a small town to uncover the story of a child's rape and murder. A young girl, shaken by a series of suicides in her neighbourhood, worries for her parents' safety. Three seemingly separate stories, and yet interwoven themes and recurring motifs suggest a connection between the strands: a crow flying overhead, a sky-scraper larger than any built before, a dog missing part of its tail, a news report . . . In a novel that defies categorisation, Jha tackles issues of abuse, neglect, and the power of hope: If You Are Afraid of Heights is about the private journeys that people take in their minds; about imaginations fuelled by the images and narratives of a city. The result is a breathtaking odyssey that draws you deep into the uncharted zone between fantasy and reality, deep into the longings and secrets of human lives.
Raj Kamal Jha's first novel, The Blue Bedspread, won the Commonwealth Writers' Award for Best First Book (Eurasia) and was shortlisted for the Guardian Book Award. Jha, a visiting professor at the University of California, Berkeley, lives in New Delhi where he is Executive Editor of the Indian Express.