In this epic, cross-cultural and cinematic novel, a boy’s coming-of-age saga collides with the sordid underworlds of child trafficking in India and Nepal. When he starts his journey in the fantastical desert city of Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, India, thirteen year old Eli de Villiers is bound by his parents’ estrangement, and by the otherwise ordinary life he leads in Cape Town.
He longs for his parents to reunite, for a whole family. But when he finds himself inside a brothel on Delhi’s infamous GB Road, at the mercy of the diabolical madam and child trafficker Auntie Lakshmi, his world expands exponentially. Eventually escaping with other children, Eli leads them – with Lakshmi’s henchmen on their heels – north towards Nepal, to deliver them to safety and to find his father, an international mediatorm posted in Kathmandu.
The children travel through the surreal landscapes of India and the jungles of southern Nepal. Also in pursuit are the irrepressible Inspector VJ Gupta, head of the Child Crimes Unit in Delhi and Lakshmi’s nemesis; and Anton de Villiers, Eli’s father, who seeks out Maoist rebels in the jungle to help find his son.Eli’s mother, Margo, has abdicated and run off to the drugged-out beaches of Kerala in a haze of self-destruction. Evocative, thought provoking and compassionate, Garden of Dreams explores the inevitable tension between loving ‘one’s own’ and loving strangers desperately needing love.
Courtesy of Penguin Books – Read an extract of Garden of Dreams by Mellisa Siebert
About the Author
Author picture copyright © Colette Yslie Benjamin
An award-winning journalist, American-born Melissa Siebert has covered a vast mix of stories in South Africa and abroad. She’s been based in Cape Town for most of the last twenty-five years, working for various local publications; co-running Ubuntu Productions, a documentary company; and co-directing the Media Peace Centre, an NGO that develops media projects to help manage and transform conflict. She has also taught journalism at UCT and writing at Harvard. Garden of Dreams is her first novel.
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Published by Penguin Books