IN THE LAND OF NO RIGHT ANGLES

PRAISE

“In her instantly suspenseful first novel, Daphne Beal cracks open a world that most of us know only from newspapers and TV: the trafficking of young women. Her intimate knowledge of Nepal—the landscapes and customs, the everyday lives of its people—shines from these pages, making her a frank and humane tour guide into an underworld she makes fully her own.” — Jennifer Egan, author of Manhattan Beach.

In the Land of No Right Angles is a quietly urgent meditation on what it means to be a traveler not only of the world, but of one's own ever-changing, inner topography. Daphne Beal artfully balances clarity and chaos, and explores how even the thinnest line of human connection, extending over time zones and cultures and years, can alter a person for good. Her debut is a subtly resonant masterpiece.”
— Heidi Julavits, author of The Folded Clock: A Diary

 

A haunting, spare, fascinating novel. From the first disarming sentence, I was hooked. Set in Kathmandu and Bombay, this is the story of a strange and powerful friendship. . . . A gripping story, gorgeously told, beautifully understated. What I love about the book is the complex, wholly original and completely authentic relationships between the three principle characters. It is a sharp, keenly observed meditation on friendship, on desire.
— Alison Smith, author of Name All the Animals


book reviews

"Capturing a self-satisfied expat world of mantra-spouting Don Juans and 'highbrow hippie girl[s taking a year off from Brown,' Beal, like a new-generation Paul Bowles, targets an essential American naiveté: the tendency to romanticize —and fear—more traditional cultures. Gently satirizing the idea that any social ill can be remedied with a bit of capital and good intentions, Beal's richly textured story conjures a friendship as intimate as it is impossible.” 
— Megan O'Grady, Vogue 

"Equal parts coming-of-age quest and travelogue, this debut novel dazzles most with its deft descriptions, which transform an unimaginably foreign land into terra cognita.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"With steady, cinematic pacing, Beal moves between Nepal, New York City, and Bombay’s gritty red-light district, Falkland Road, where Alex goes one night to visit with and photograph some locals she has befriended on an unexpected quest there.'Outside,' Beal writes, 'we all waited in the lavender light of dusk, where everything seemed to float a few inches above the ground'—like this fine first book does."
— Lisa Shea, Elle

 "Daphne Beal’s first book might be considered an exemplar of what Edmund White recently characterized as the 'Peace Corps novel,' in which a “young, privileged American” travels to another country and is transformed by the experience....To Beal’s credit, she resists facile resolution; cultural dislocation may be transformative, but she also notes the gaps and incongruities....If In the Land of No Right Angles occasionally loses focus, it can also be gratifyingly oblique, allowing for mystery. As images of Maya’s enigmatic face emerge in the darkroom, Alex wonders, Who are you? Beal invites us to ask the same question yet leaves the answer tantalizingly ambiguous." 
— Rebecca Donner, Bookforum

"Somewhere between Samrat Upadhyay's story collection Arresting God in Kathmandu and Suketu Mehta's eye-opening book on Bombay, Maximum City, sits Daphne Beal's debut novel.... This is a compliment.... Beal manages to trace a story that perfectly links the changing face of contemporary Nepal and the lurid underworld of Bombay's red-light district. Against this backdrop, Beal's narrative slowly and intimately develops a portrait of a love triangle.... [Her] questions, like Zen koans, are impossible to entirely resolve. But zeroing in on her three characters as they collide and vanish, she offers an exquisitely rendered tale set against a continent teeming with motion." 
— Anderson Tepper, Time Out New York

"Beal deftly portrays the beauty of the countryside, the monasteries and temples, the quaint villages, the welcoming hinterland families and the easygoing expat community. But she also explores the soft underbelly of [the] opening up of Nepal and the shattering changes in tradition and desires that modernity brings." 
— Geeta Sharma-Jensen, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 

“We were skeptical of another story about a pretty college student abroad in Nepal—the whole enlightened-expat thing makes our eyes roll (all three of them). Yet Beal...won us over. When naïve Alex makes a “karmic connection” with magnetic Maya, there’s nothing pseudo about it. Years later, after Maya is trafficked as a sex slave in India, Alex treks across the globe to rescue her. Would you drop everything—your job, apartment—for a friend? Meditate on that.”
Marie-Claire



© Daphne Beal 2019