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The seed of the novel, Little Hands of Silk, is one of Ajay’s stories published in From a Tilted Pail, a collection of short fiction. This story had made the final list at Ploughshares.

Set in Southern India against the backdrop of child labor in a silk-production facility, Little Hands of Silk is a tale of young lives and friendships that intersect one fateful summer.

Six days a week, almost twelve hours a day, Shiva and Manju toil reluctantly in the brutal confines of the Factory, which runs under the merciless leadership of Pandu, a ruthless taskmaster who demands unquestioning obedience. Lives improve for the two boys when they cross paths with Sunil, a city-bred lad whose family owns the silk business, spending his summer with his uncle only because he’s given no other option.

Sunil, who is battling his own demons, finds unexpected comfort in the company of his new-found friends.

However, menacing currents within the Factory continue to simmer under the surface, and things come to a head with great rapidity.

Little Hands of Silk is a novel of loss—loss of empathy, of innocence, of life itself, but it’s also a tale of hope and friendship that blooms as an antidote to the surrounding evil.

NOTE: The book cover design is a running one (not finalized!)