Nothing can wash away the heinous crime on that dark day in December 2012. Raj Kamal Jha turns his fine lens on the troubled City and the Sea, the depravity and devastation of our times. Reading this is to relive the horror, dive into the darkness and spot a piercing ray of light. Which shows us that as we stumble to find our place in the twenty-first century, the absolute priority has to be the safety of girls in public and private places-and this will need both our courage and compassion'-Shabana Azmi 'Disturbing and relentless, this fictional afterlife of a rape compels us to confronta culture of masculinity that turns men into brutes. But it also gives us the gift of hope-through one woman's journey to survival, and the collective fight for justice and equality'-Githa Hariharan What if? In a crumbling neighbourhood in New Delhi, a child waits for a mother to return home from work. And, in parallel, in a snow-swept town in Germany on the Baltic Sea coast a woman, her memory fading, shows up at a deserted hotel. Worlds apart, both embark, in the course of that night, on harrowing journeys through the lost and the missing, the living and the dead, until they meet in an ending that breaks the heart-and holds the promise of putting it back together again. Called the novelist of the newsroom, Raj Kamal Jha cleaves open India's tragedy of violence against women with a powerful story about our complicity in the culture that supports it. This is a book about masculinity-damaging and toxic and yet enduring and entrenched-that begs the question: What kind of men are our boys growing up to be? The novel takes off from the night of a horrific rape in New Delhi, where Jha leaves behind the story that was, and sets out in search of a story that could have been, opening a conversation, listening to voices that can, perhaps, find utterance only in fiction. The City and The Sea, Jha's fifth and most audacious novel yet, is a call for empathy and imagination in the fight for justice. It's also one possible answer to the fundamental question which drives the art of the novel and is the basis of all hope: What if?