Sleeping on Jupiter: A Novel Summary & Study Guide

Anuradha Roy
This Study Guide consists of approximately 39 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Sleeping on Jupiter.
This section contains 921 words
(approx. 3 pages at 400 words per page)
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Sleeping on Jupiter: A Novel Summary & Study Guide Description

Sleeping on Jupiter: A Novel Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Quotes and a Free Quiz on Sleeping on Jupiter: A Novel by Anuradha Roy.

The following version of this book was used to create this novel: Roy, Anuradha. Sleeping on Jupiter. Graywolf Press, 2015.

The novel opens with a brief account by the main character Nomi concerning her childhood. She lived in a hut in India, but when she was young, soldiers involved in an unnamed conflict arrived and killed her family. She fled and was briefly taken in by a group of women, but their home was soon also destroyed by soldiers. The novel then transitions to the present day, where three elderly women—Vidya, Latika, and Gouri—are on a train heading towards the village of Jarmuli for a vacation. On the train, they meet Nomi, who explains that she is originally from India but now lives in Oslo and is heading to Jarmuli to do research for a documentary film company. The novel soon transitions to another of Nomi’s flashbacks. Nomi recalls being taken in by a religious community called an ashram led by a spiritual leader called Guruji. There, Nomi befriended a girl named Piku who was similar in age to Nomi but lacked the ability to speak.

In Jarmuli, Nomi meets with an Indian man named Suraj who has been hired to help Nomi perform research on the local temples. However, when they attempt to tour a temple, Nomi is barred from entering by a our guide named Badal, who says that women must be completely covered from the neck down if they wish to enter the temple. Nomi tells Suraj that he should go in without her. After the tour, Badal goes to an electronics store to buy a cell phone as a gift for a young man named Raghu, who is close in age to Badal and whom Badal only met two months prior. Badal recalls the kiss they recently shared in the countryside next to Jarmuli. Meanwhile, in the marketplace, Nomi walks by a tea stall run by a man named Johnny Toppo. Raghu is Toppo’s employee.

The narrative transitions to another flashback of Nomi’s. She recalls meeting the spiritual leader called Guruji, who at first seemed very nice. However, she then remembers the first time when Guruji called her to his room and forced her to touch his genitals and bring him to the point of ejaculation. Guruji claimed that this was part of a spiritual ritual about which Nomi should tell no one. The narrative then shifts focus to Suraj, who sits in his hotel room and laments the lack of traction in his filmmaking career and the impending divorce between himself and his wife. Nomi arrives and admits that she proposed the Jarmuli assignment to the film company because she was originally from near Jarmuli and wished to return and see it. Nomi recalls being eventually adopted by a foster mother who lived in England at the time and then moved to many different countries.

The next day, while Nomi and Suraj walk through the marketplace, they are spotted by Latika and Gouri who recognize Suraj as Vidya’s married son and wonder what he is doing with a strange woman. They decide to say nothing to Vidya. Nomi realizes that Johnny Toppo reminds her of the ashram’s kind gardener, Jugnu, and she asks him if he ever worked as a gardener at an ashram. However, Toppo’s answers are evasive and unclear. Later, Nomi hires a taxi to drive her around the outskirts of Jarmuli, and she finds a building that she thinks may be the ashram. It is abandoned now, but she meets an old man there who says he was a sculptor. Nomi recalls that there was a sculptor near the ashram. The narrative then transitions to another of Nomi’s flashbacks. She recalls receiving her first period at the age of 12 and subsequently being locked in a hut for a week. Once her period stopped, Guruji entered the hut and raped her, claiming the act to be a spiritual ritual.

The narrative then shifts focus to Suraj, who attempts to drown himself due to despair over his professional failures and his impending divorce. However, he is unable to go through with the act. Later, Nomi and Suraj tour another temple, and after Nomi leaves on an unspecified errand, Suraj sees that she left her laptop computer behind. Suraj decides to look through her computer files. Meanwhile, Badal tries to converse with Raghu after giving him a cell phone as a gift, but Raghu acts as if they have never met. When Badal presses further, Raghu denies any romantic connection between them. In despair, Badal rides his motor scooter to the beach, where he sees Nomi. He offers to give her a ride back to the marketplace, after which he says he will leave Jarmuli forever. Later, Nomi goes to Suraj’s hotel room to retrieve her computer. There, Suraj drunkenly assaults her, and she protects herself with Suraj’s carving knife, leaving a cut on his arm.

The narrative transitions to another of Nomi’s flashbacks. She recalls escaping the ashram with a girl named Champa, promising to return for Piku someday. Nomi and Champa escaped to an orphanage, from which Nomi was eventually adopted by her foster mother. The narrative then transitions back to present-day, where Vidya and Latika realize that Gouri has accidentally been separated from them, and they go out into a storm to look for her. About two weeks later, Nomi is still in India, apparently searching for Piku.

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