Greyhound Literary

The Passenger Seat

Adult •
Fiction Literary Fiction
Rights sold
  • Biblioasis (English/North America)
  • Peninsula Press (English/UK & Commonwealth)
  • Ultimo Press (English/ANZ)

A striking debut novel from a British Indian Australian living in Berlin, THE PASSENGER SEAT was Runner-Up in the Fitzcarraldo/New Directions/Giramondo Novel Prize. It is an unsettling, riveting portrait of how men learn to be male by being with and performing for other men, for good and for ill. It has a pair of wannabe rebel teens, Alvin and Teddy, impulsively fleeing their over-familiar, under-powered small-town existence to drive a car north and then further north on the American continent, with no particular place to go, and no particular sense of who is at the wheel. Their relationship fluctuates as much as their emotions and their intentions; they drive more or less deliberately into a ditch out of which they cannot readily escape. The father-figures in their families have been no kind of role model. Their story has a growling horsepower all its own. It rumbles, roars and squeals. It rides out to territory somewhere between TWO-LANE BLACKTOP and Muriel Spark’s THE DRIVER’S SEAT or Andrea Arnold’s AMERICAN HONEY. And then it careens off the edge, leaving behind a masculinity that is quieter and more melancholy but no less haunting.

Elvia Wilk, author of Death by Landscape and Oval, has said of the novel: “Vijay Khurana's profound and propulsive The Passenger Seat is a thrilling, terrifying, devastating ride. This perfectly pitched tale of masculinity gone wrong exposes the ways that intimacy can so quickly veer into violence—yet it evades easy moral pronouncements at every turn. Khurana is a brilliant stylist who drives straight toward the heart. I would follow him down any road.