An unnamed man arrives in Berlin as a visiting professor. It is a place fused with Western history and cultural fracture lines. He moves along its streets and pavements; through its department stores, museums and restaurants. Berlin is a riddle – he becomes lost not only in the city but in its legacy.
Sealed off in his own solitude, and as his visiting professorship passes, the narrator awaits transformation and meaning. Ultimately, he starts to understand that the less sure he becomes of his place in the moment, the more he knows his way.
In this haunting and noirish novel by a leading author and critic, an Indian writer travels to Berlin and soon finds himself slipping into a fragmented, fuguelike state.
To him, the new world of the twenty-first century, with its endless commodities from all over the place and no prospect of any sort of historical transformation, appears to exist in a state of amnesiac suspense. He gets involved with a woman, Birgit. He begins to miss his classes. He blacks out in the street. People are worried. “I’ve lost my bearings—not in the city; in its history,” he thinks. “The less sure I become of it, the more I know my way.”