The Far Himalaya
Young and homeless on the streets of Toronto, a fugitive from an unquiet past that has followed him from his hometown in Northern Ontario, Benjamin Doheney is sustained by unusual sources of strength: his devotion to Sanskrit, the ancient literary language of India; the love he shares with Aditi, a PhD student in Sanskrit at the University of Toronto; and his vision of a future with her in India, a land in which she has her own troubled history, and which he has never seen. Before they can move on, they must extricate her from the clutches of her twisted and malevolent PhD supervisor, with the help of his old enemy, a good professor emeritus who has taken the prodigious Ben under his wing, and of Moksha Das, a homeless alcoholic poet and scholar, Ben’s difficult guru and friend. When a mysterious murder on campus threatens to draw the police’s attention to Moksha, Ben and Aditi contrive to remove him to his old ashram north of the city. But events now begin to spiral out of control, inexorably drawing them all towards a probably bloody culmination which the couple’s hopes for a distant future peace may not survive.
Born in 1970, Phillip Ernest grew up in Northern Ontario. Fleeing home at the age of fifteen, he lived on Toronto’s skid row until he was twenty-eight. He learned Sanskrit from the book Teach Yourself Sanskrit, and later earned a BA in South Asian Studies from the University of Toronto and a PhD in Sanskrit from Cambridge University, with a dissertation on the Sanskrit epic Mahabharata. Marrying a woman from Pune, India, in 2006, he lived in that city until 2016, working first in the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, then as a writer and editor at Dilip Oak Academy. His first novel, The Vetala, was published in 2018, and he lives with his wife in Bengaluru, India.