Fugue States begins as Ash Dhar, a thirty-something writer, opens his mouth to deliver a eulogy at a funeral—the funeral for his own father, a Kashmir-born doctor. But in that moment between thought and speech, something mysterious occurs: a terrible wordless gap into which Ash falls helplessly, recovering only as the concerned faces of friends and family shock him into focus. Later, still unsettled as he sorts through his father’s belongings, Ash discovers a partially completed and baffling work of fiction set in what seems to be Kashmir. Reading his father’s words, Ash feels compelled to know more about this ancestral land—and yet he resists the impulse to visit, loathe to be a cliché, chasing self-discovery in a war-torn homeland. But Ash’s childhood friend Matt— pothead, massage therapy student and selfdescribed “maker of memories”—has no such hesitations and goes in Ash’s place . . . with unexpected and excruciating results. Soon, Ash is forced to rescue Matt by following him to India— where he experiences a second alarming gap, one that echoes and amplifies the mysterious “fugue state” with which the novel began.
Fugue States is at once a parody of clueless tourism; a knowing, uneasy look at contemporary masculinity; and a surprisingly poignant tale about the deep inchoate melancholy that abides in people who, like Ash and his father, and even Matt-the-fool, have never felt completely at home in the world.