Nilanjana Roy is a novelist and journalist based in Delhi, India. She is the author of two novels, The Wildings (2012) and The Hundred Names of Darkness (2014), has edited two anthologies and is a contributor to FT Weekend. (July 2019)
A running series of brief dispatches by New York Review writers documenting the coronavirus outbreak with regular updates from around the world, including Tolu Ogunlesi in Lagos, Merve Emre in Oxford, Yasmine El Rashidi in Cairo, Keija Parssinen in Granville, E. Tammy Kim in Brooklyn, Adam Foulds in Toronto, Tom Bachtell in Chicago, Ivan Sršen in Zagreb, Sue Halpern in Ripton, Michael S. Roth in Middletown, Ben Mauk in Penang, Martin Filler in Southampton, Eula Biss in Evanston, Richard Ford in East Boothbay, George Weld in Brooklyn, Nilanjana Roy in New Delhi, Ursula Lindsey in Amman, Zoë Schlanger in Brooklyn, Dominique Eddé in Beirut, Lucy McKeon in Brooklyn, Yiyun Li in Princeton, Caitlin L. Chandler in Berlin, Nick Laird in Kerhonkson, Alma Guillermoprieto in Bogotá, Lucy Jakub in Northampton, Rachael Bedard in Brooklyn, Hari Kunzru in Brooklyn, Minae Mizumura in Tokyo, Jenny Uglow in Keswick, Sylvia Poggioli in Rome, and more.
This spring in Delhi, the temperature reached 113 degrees Fahrenheit, the first time in almost fifty years that the city had seen that kind of heat; on June 9, the government issued a red alert, as the mercury reached 118 degrees. At that temperature, your eyes feel sandblasted, your skin feels on fire, the water is hot from the tap, and the leaves on the neem and amaltas trees wither and shrivel. The worst-affected of the city’s 1.98 million population are those in jobs far from the luxuries of air-conditioning or ceiling fans—construction workers, clerks who cycle for miles to their offices, delivery boys, the women who run pavement stalls. At least 100 deaths across the country have been attributed to the heat, and city hospitals have seen a spike in emergency room visits, mostly for heat stroke, severe dehydration, and lung problems—with parts of the country potentially becoming too hot to be inhabitable.