Bikram Sharma’s debut novel, The Colony of Shadows, has been longlisted for the 2023 JCB Prize for Literature. Scroll spoke to Sharma about the origins, themes, and writing of this novel.

In The Colony of Shadows, after the untimely death of his parents, nine-year-old Varun struggles to adjust to his new life in Bangalore with his perceptive aunt and bedridden grandmother. When he climbs through a hole in the wall of their back garden, he discovers a mysterious colony that lies abandoned and in ruins. It’s strangely familiar, and the more he explores it, the more it resembles his old home in Delhi. But the comfort of familiarity is deceptive, for something dangerous lurks in the shadows, waiting for the right moment to strike – and wreak havoc. Will Varun survive this threat? Or will he vanish from the world, swallowed alive by the colony of shadows?

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