“A vividly rendered portrait of a bygone era.”  ~ Booklist


It is 1554 in the desert of Rajasthan. On a rare night of rain, a little girl, Adhira, is born into a family of Hindu temple dancers just as a new Muslim emperor takes the throne. Her father, against his wife and sons’ protests, insists Adhira follow tradition: “marry” the temple deity and give herself to a wealthy patron. But after one terrible evening, she makes a brave choice that carries her family’s story and their dance to a startling new beginning. Told from the memory of this exquisite dancer and filled with the sounds, sights and flavors of the Indian desert, this is the story of a family and a girl caught between art, duty, and fear in a changing world.

“First time novelist Duva describes the sacred dances so vividly that the reader can almost hear the dancers’ feet hitting the floor and the tinkling of ankle bells. Historical fiction readers with an interest in non-Western cultures will find much to treasure in this evocative journey to the Indian desert.”

~ Library Journal

Shortlisted for the 2016 William Saroyan International Prize for Fiction and a 2015 Chaucer Award for Historical Fiction

An unconventional reading

Having studied kathak dance for years, I find it impossible to stay completely still when I give a reading of this story that is so full of dance and music. Even when seated, I tend to illustrate the words and movement with my hands, as you will see in this excerpt filmed by writer and director Desmond Hall for his literary website, Litsnap.

sample the audiobook

Narrated by Meetu Chilana. Available on Amazon and Audible.


“Breathtaking and vivid, FAINT PROMISE OF RAIN transports us to 16th century India into a world we rarely see, where characters confront brutal realities not unlike our own. Here we witness the fragility of human desires, the precariousness of faith, and the possibility of redemption. Anjali Mitter Duva writes with the skill and grace of a dancer, spinning out her story slowly until it crescendos like the deafening sound of bells to a startling end. And a new beginning.”

~ Valarie Kaur, interfaith leader, filmmaker, activist.