Mistaken Identity | National Humanities Center

Work of the Fellows: Fiction and Poetry

Mistaken Identity

By Nayantara Sahgal (NHC Fellow, 1983–84)

Families; Historical Fiction

New York: New Directions, 1988

From the publisher’s description:

The year is 1929, India is torn by strikes, the British Raj is close to panic, and Bhushan Singh, the purposeless but amiable son of a minor raja, is arrested on his train journey home to North India, mistakenly charged with treason, and thrown into jail. As the months of awaiting trial stretch into years, the apolitical Bhushan entertains his communist cellmates with tales of his world; of his veiled and idiosyncratic mother; of his very modern Parsee girlfriend (she wears dresses); of the American flapper who taught him the Turkey Trot; of his forbidden boyhood affair which sparked off two murderous Hindu-Moslem riots and led to his banishment abroad. Around the mystery of his arrest and into his stories Sahgal infuses suspense, gentle irony, and a wealth of Northern India’s culture. Mistaken Identity is at once a family saga, a romance, a rich historical novel, and, perhaps most keenly, a fable concerning the implacable working of karma.

Fiction and Poetry / Families / Historical Fiction /

Sahgal, Nayantara (NHC Fellow, 1983–84). Mistaken Identity. New York: New Directions, 1988.