God’s Little Soldier


No matter what grab he dons, or the faith to which he subscribes, Zia believes that he is the chosen one, destined to save the world.

Gifted mathematician, stock market whiz-kid, master guerrilla strategies, Defender of the faith, Zia Khan is a man willing to die for his beliefs, and to destroy anyone who comes in his way. Zia Khan is a god’s little soldier: a terrorist.Zia’s fate is linked with that of his brother, Amanat, who chooses the middle path.

Their lives diverge and their beliefs clash, but both are confronted in their own ways with the dilemmas of faith and betrayal, god and morality.Crafted with a deft, daring and certain hand, God’s Little Soldier is a masterpiece of storytelling. As a literary work, the novel effortlessly combines lyricism and learning, imagination and authenticity; as a modern-day allegory it highlights the dangers of religious extremism of all varieties, and is a profound and unflinching enquiry into the most pressing issues of our times.

God's Little Soldier

Kiran Nagarkar has the touch of genius. In my opinion, he is amongst the best Indian writers of English fiction of our times… God's Little Soldier makes great reading.
Khushwant SinghTelegraph
(God’s Little Soldier) careens across continents and subjects with a potboiler’s mad energy yet remains most essentially a deeply philosophical study of religion, love, human nature, and the universal yearning for meaning. Few writers could pull off a book as daring and ambitious as this… In Zia Khan… Nagarkar has created an unflinching but deeply compassionate portrait of evil… God’s Little Soldier will challenge and shock people. It makes no concession to political correctness or convenient balance. It tilts the world and torches it.
Shoma ChoudhuryTehelka
Nagarkar’s … journey into the heart of fundamentalist darkness and the psyche of a full-blown fanatic, has a range and depth none of the peaks of Indian literary achievement so far possess… (God’s Little Soldier) tackles profound questions of faith and choice and commitment; it mixes realism and fable and politics and metaphysics in a manner never done before. Nothing even in Nagarkar’s own previous works…comes remotely close to his achievement in this book.
Debashish MukherjiThe Week
In the glut of recent Indian English fiction, it is only Nagarkar’s latest novel which perhaps invites comparison with Dostoevsky’s great work. As in The Brothers Karamazov, the canvas is both large and crowded with brooding and disturbing figures… Moving with the rapidity of a thriller across three continents, (God’s Little Soldier) also explores fundamental psychological and political issues… Nagarkar weaves his magical worlds with the dexterity of a master-weaver creating new patterns on his world-loom.
Makarand ParanjapeIndia Today
(F)ascinating, complex, rewarding…(the) work of a writer at the height of his talent… (God’s Little Soldier) is insistently readable.
Shashi TharoorOutlook
We are alienated and bewildered as bright, charmed Zia, goes bad. But because we also see him through those who love him, we are surprised to suddenly realise that we may hate what he does, but we ache for him, and are suffused by the sadness of his life. For this shining quality of truth and compassion, this tribute to the spirituality of doubt and stories which speak of “that intractable thing, the-truth-of-the matter”, this book will unsettle stern guardians Left and Right, who won’t let us make a joke, and make a difference in the same breath.
Paromita VohraTime Out Mumbai
(God’s Little Soldier) charts a whole new territory, while re-illuminating the essential qualities of Nagarkar’s writing: a universal approach, a writing style that is racy as in a thriller, and profound and solid as in a dense book, and with a tension that never palls… In holding the interest of the reader, he has established himself as a story-teller in the tradition of Graham Greene.
Pankaj Upadhyaya and Vaibhav PurandareMumbai Mirror
One of the most important books of this year.
Alex RühleSZ
You could call Kiran Nagarkar the great dark horse of Indian literature. All the better now that his biggest work so far, "God's Little Soldier", is out this year. It is a gift you want to thank him for from the depths of your heart …"God's Little Soldier" shows how humans can fail God and how tragic it is if they try to overcome this defeat by becoming self-righteous. Nagarkar has not written a book about terrorism, but about another, far more dangerous mania, the self-righteousness of believers. In the end you think that you have understood that fanatics commit the supreme blasphemy: pretending to know everything better in the name of God.
Ilja TrojanowBücher
… the most profound novel of this year, on the spiritual roots of terrorism.
Sigrid LöfflerLiteraturen
A superb novel by one of the best Indian authors … 700 luminous, wonderful, insightful pages about the essence of fundamentalism … haven't read anything as good as this for a long time.
Wolfgang HerlesZDF – aspekte
Kiran Nagarkar is a name you definitely have to remember, because this author is one of the genuine great new discoveries of the past few years.
Denis ScheckDeutschlandradio
"God's Little Soldier" is not a good book, rather an extraordinary one, a book which might become a true classic. What makes this novel so remarkable? First of all, it is Nagarkar's exuberant talent for storytelling. When this author describes a street in Bombay, you feel as if you had to brush the dust from your clothes afterwards. But Nagarkar is a cosmopolitan, giving a sensuous quality to his prose, whether he deals with London, California or Kabul or with mathematics or architecture. And what's more, this author boasts a fine sense of humour, sometimes sharp irony, and an equally astute eye for detail. But more importantly, Nagarkar cannot only write and describe, he also has something to say..."God's Little Soldier" is slapstick and satire at times, serious as a heart attack at others, but always completely without respect for any kind of worldly or godly authority which disregards human life. Some of the truest and most beautiful sentences in this book are: "There is only one God, and her name is life. She is the only one worthy of worship. All else is irrelevant."
Denis ScheckARD – druckfrisch
Kiran Nagarkar is an outstanding figure of contemporary Indian literature.
Rainer TraubDer Spiegel
Nagarkar's latest novel "God's Little Soldier" is among the most outstanding novels of this year's Indian literary autumn …Nagarkar again shows himself as a highly gifted stylist and storyteller who in this novel also addresses one of the most urgent contemporary topics.
Shirin SojitrawallaWiener Zeitung
Nagarkar's novel, with its imaginative and extravagant narrative, is the most important of all the surprisingly numerous, interesting and good books coming from India this autumn.
Hubert SpiegelFrankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
With "God's Little Soldier", the Indian Nagarkar has written the portrait of a man who always wants the good and always achieves evil. It is a parable about the very fine line between reality and illusion, religiosity and fanaticism, humbleness and violence, in our times. This colourful and intense book, which in spite of its length never loses its breakneck speed, this curious collection of human foolishness will remain important far beyond this literary autumn.
Peter ZemlaBuchjournal
In the three major sections of this incredibly imaginative, intelligent and always surprising book, we follow the path of the born fundamentalist through three world religions, and his considerable criminal career. "Zia" means "light", and this metaphor plays an important role – but, again and again, the self-styled bringer of light proves to be a true Lucifer …Nagarkar's Zia is not completely blind, he is not without a conscience, and he is nobody’s agent. He just does incredible damage and brings deep unhappiness to his nearest and dearest, because he is completely convinced that he is fighting for a righteous cause…The counterpart to this self-styled Soldier of God is his own brother, Amanat, a born sceptic, an intellectual – seemingly a weakling whose hidden strengths only become apparent to the merciless hero of faith when it is too late.
Julia SchröderStuttgarter Zeitung
Is it permitted to introduce a new character on page 600? Is it permitted to bank on a deeply unpleasant hero? Is it permitted to write a novel showing no development of its central character at all? An epistolary novel where a person tells a lie when uttering the word "I"? Some mistakes are always mistakes – with the exception of this one book …The central character of this brilliant, rampant, teeming novel is Zia Khan, child of the Indian upper class … Those who still believe that young Islamists come from the Dark Ages, are taught otherwise once and for all by Zia. In any case, Kiran Nagarkar, probably India's most sardonic storyteller, slaughters every holy cow that comes his way and puts it through the mill in his novel …Zia's turbulent story finds its formal expression in an equally turbulent novel. Because it deals with a shapeless hero who can only live in pure forms, the novel must needs be a mixture of forms: sometimes developmental novel, sometimes epistolary novel …Zia would be unbearable, if Nagarkar had not paired his hero who is thrown from cliff to cliff by a turbulent sea, with a quiet hero: Amanat, the brother who is to Zia what Abel was to Cain …All the mystery of Nagarkar's extravagant novel is contained in Amanat, and all authorial statements (of which there are many) are voiced by Amanat.
Wieland FreundLiterarische Welt
In the end, after an adventurous odyssey across religions and continents, after a search for identity and true belief, Zia leaves the fascinated reader behind - with just as many questions as answers.
Gerald GieseckeDas Parlament
It is high time that we finally see Kiran Nagarkar as a storyteller who addresses topics such as intolerance and fundamentalism, spirituality, ethics and responsibility with great seriousness and with the greatest of ease.
Cornelia Zetzschebörsenblatt SPEZIAL
A strong plea against any kind of extremism.To oppose the narrow-mindedness of his central character, Kiran Nagarkar speaks up for tolerance, for an almost European principle of enlightenment. The sinners, the heretics and the wise, who ever defends freedom of thought, those are the positive figures in "God's Little Soldier". Even Zia Khan, the fanatic, has doubts again and again. But instead of admitting to his own wrong-headedness, he always sets out on a search for new salvations. Nagarkar tells the story of this sham existence in an extraordinary and brilliant style.
Michael WeidemannNDR Kultur
Does the end justify the means? This is one of the central questions with which the protagonist, a highly gifted Muslim from a liberal family from Bombay, is confronted several times during his life under changing denominations – as fundamentalist fanatic and terrorist as well as as Catholic monk or as arms dealer. This little soldier of God is always fighting for a good cause. Nagarkar, one of the most important present-day authors from India, deals in this extremely complex novel with earth-shattering religious, ethic, social and political questions, from the Rushdie-Fatwa to the definition of the “Axis of evil”, and takes a very insightful and sensible, courageous and incorruptible critical stand, all this in his clear and refined voice.A literary and thematically important and highly charged book!
Christa Chatrathekz