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The Limits of the World

Jennifer Acker

April 18, 2019

Sunil Chandaria is struggling to write his PhD dissertation in philosophy at Harvard University. He feels his father’s disapproval because he didn’t become a doctor, and his mother’s disapproval that he doesn’t have a job or a wife. The Chandaria family lives in Columbus, Ohio. They are emigrants from Nairobi, Kenya, but they are Gujarati-speaking Jains whose grandparents left India for jobs in Africa at the end of the 19th century. Sunil’s father is now a successful doctor and his mother owns a giftshop that sells African-made art, clothing, and gifts. When Sunil’s cousin gets injured in a horrible car accident, the family returns to Nairobi, where Sunil surprises everyone by announcing that he and his Jewish-American girlfriend are married. Then he in turn is surprised to learn that his cousin is actually his brother. The Limits of the World (Delphinium Books, 2019) is a rich novel about how we navigate the bonds of family, culture and religion in a world made smaller by immigration and technology. 

Jennifer Acker is founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Common. Her short stories, translations, and essays have appeared in The Washington Post, Guernica, n+1, Ploughshares, Harper’s, The Millions, and Publishers Weekly, among other places. Acker has an MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars, and teaches literature, creative writing, and editing at Amherst College. She was born and grew up in rural Maine and has lived in Kenya, Mexico, and Abu Dhabi. She now lives in western Massachusetts with her husband, Nishi Shah, and The Limits of the World is her first novel.

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