Douglas & McIntyre
The Silent Raga

Book details:

February 2009
ISBN 978-1-55365-405-6
Paperback - Trade
5" x 8"
464 pages
$22.95 CAD


  • 2nd place in the Alcuin Society Awards for Excellence in Book Design (Prose Fiction category)
  • Nomintated for the Commonwealth Writers' Prize Best First Book Award

Douglas & McIntyre

The Silent Raga

New in paperback, the acclaimed debut novel the Globe and Mail called “a rich banquet for the senses.”

“India-born and Vancouver-based Ameen Merchant’s debut novel, The Silent Raga, inspired by a Tamil novel, is an exquisite blend of tradition and transition, exile and reconciliation, silence and eloquence . . . Merchant’s poetic self is evident in his glittering array of metaphors, tactile, aural, and kinesthetic images.”—Canadian Literature

“[Merchant] has a writer’s eye for colour and action, a writer’s ear for language and music and a writer’s obsessive interest in the patterns of human behaviour.” —Quill & Quire

“A gem of a novel, filled with brilliant imagery and an elegant style of writing.” —Toronto Star

“A remarkable debut.” —Time Out Bombay

  • a bestseller in India
  • shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize 2008

Meet Janaki and Mallika, two sisters from a middle-class Brahmin family in Madras, India. Janaki is a musical prodigy, sublimely gifted on the veena, but will soon be eighteen and dreads her aunt’s schemes for an arranged marriage. Eschewing tradition, she runs off with a Muslim Bollywood star. Years later, Mallika receives a letter from Janaki, who is returning to Madras.

In confident prose that resembles the rhythms and progression of an Indian raga, Ameen Merchant captures in rich detail the world of these Brahmin women, a world restricted by caste and cultural rules but also teeming with colour, music and food. The Silent Raga is a story about the traditions that bind us and the sacrifices we must make along the road to our own Individual destinies.

"Elegant and atmospheric, this sensitively written novel portrays two sisters trapped in loss and regret. Merchant’s slowly unfolding tale carefully examines conflicting obligations to self and family.” —Shauna Singh Baldwin, author of What the Body Remembers and The Tiger’s Claw

“Ameen Merchant is a superb poet of prose. His story transforms history into a dream.” —George Elliott Clarke, Governor-General's Award-winning author of George and Rue

“In crafting his epic, from Madras to Bombay, Ameen Merchant draws on countless aspects of South Asia’s impossibly rich culture: consumerism, fashion, Bollywood, Hinduism, Islam and especially music and cooking, both seen through the recurring image of a roaring fire, both creator and destroyer. Middle-class Brahmin life of the 1970s and ‘80s, with all of its celebrations, joy, drudgery and death, is depicted exquisitely; you’ll laugh, cry, your mouth will water and you’ll clench your fists with rage, but most importantly you’ll become intimately acquainted with the sisters Janaki and Mallika Venkatakrishnan, two heroines of quiet dignity and enduring love. Through them, The Silent Raga resonates to the heavens.” —Adam Lewis Schroeder, author of Empress of Asia

About the Author

Ameen  Merchant

Ameen Merchant

Ameen Merchant was born in Bombay and raised in Madras, India. The Silent Raga is his first novel. He lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, where he is ...

more >>
The Jade Peony

The Jade Peony

Wayson Choy

News & Events for The Silent Raga

  • Ameen Merchant Launches The Silent Raga in India Read more >>
  • Merchant in Montreal at the Blue Metropolis Literary Festival Read more >>
  • Meet first-time novelist Ameen Merchant at the Vancouver International Writer’s Festival Read more >>