21 September 2023
Everything can seem possible on a London bus—there is something invigorating about being surrounded by strangers. You are on the 13, North London, heading for Boundary Road and no one is travelling light. Everyone has got something to share: love, desires, illusions and sometimes a touch of madness but two of the passengers have a past they can’t escape.
A visceral and powerful exploration of contemporary multi-cultural London. We’re on a bus in North London heading for Boundary Road; passengers get on and off leaving something of themselves behind. Connections are made, lives woven together, and, as the bus moves, its unsuspecting passengers become aware that the ordinary can be violently unsettling and at the heart of human experience. A man haunted by his past and the many pasts of his family, but in love with the present; all that’s greeting his senses right now. He’s black with blue eyes. He’s charming but he’s got a secret waiting to catch up with him. A woman stifled by lack of affection but determined to do what’s right. A man obsessed with architecture and in love with a painting. Everyone talks; layers of privacy are peeled away laying bare a wide variety of lives, desires and illusions as we head towards Boundary Road on the 13.
I really admired the intense, heartfelt, richly cumulative world of Boundary Road, an enthralling novel whose characters will stay with me for a long time.
‘Rao skilfully treads the boundary between fiction and non-fiction to offer a fascinating cross section of contemporary multi-cultural London from the top of a double-decker bus. An engaging, insightful read.’
As readers, we inevitably love to hear stories of others, and in capturing the vignettes on the bus, Rao has been able to magnify that even more creating a vibrancy and eclecticism which is so true to life.