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My Magical Palace

A lyrical tale of a boy’s coming of age

Haunted by dreams of an unforgettable loss, Rahul, a young man of thirty living in San Francisco, suddenly becomes secretive and withdraws from his partner Andrew. When Andrew discovers that Rahul is still interviewing girls sent by his parents for an arranged marriage, he gives Rahul an ultimatum—stop living a lie, or give up their relationship. In response, Rahul tells Andrew a story. About a boy who lived in a palace. A boy named Rahul.

Set in San Francisco today and in India in the early 1970s, My Magical Palace is a sensitive tale about a boy’s coming of age, and the many hurdles he must cross to heal and find himself.




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For the Indian Subcontinent: 

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Available in Bookstores at:

  • Crossword (Pan India)
  • Landmark (Pan India)
  • Timeout (Pan India)
  • Sapana Book Store (Bangalore)
  • WH Smith ( Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Cochin airport)
  • Mediamart ( Delhi, Chennai and Mumbai airport)


My Magical Palace is being published by Harper Collins (India) and is available in stores throughout India



Read My Magical Palace Goodreads Reviews


Average Rating on Goodreads:

based on 41 rating(s)

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What people are saying about My Magical Palace


In My Magical Palace, writer Kunal Mukherjee captures, with exquisite detail, the world of post partition India and the political and social tension that colors and constricts the lives of a family confronted with shifts in tradition. He gives us a young hero whose adolescent angst reflects the confusion of a place and time when long-drawn boundaries—physical, political, racial, and sexual are in the midst of drastic transition.

-Linda Watanabe McFerrin, Author of Namako: Sea Cucumber and The Hand of Buddha


Kunal Mukherjee’s prose is very lush and yet at the same time very clear: I admire these qualities, particularly the clarity, and I congratulate him. Also, I appreciate how he takes us to a very particular place, not just geographically but socially—the way he evokes the networks of family, the surrounding penumbra of history and culture. I was drawn along…

-Tamim Ansari, Author of West of Kabul East of New York


I am a great admirer of Kunal Mukherjee …, He’s a very poetic writer with a lovely literary style, has wonderful characters, a beautiful setting, an exotic (to American readers) culture, all brought to life in an interesting way. ….

-Alan Rinzler, Executive Editor, Jossey-Bass/John Wiley & Sons.
(Founding editor of Rolling Stones Magazine)


If I am the queen of gay storytelling in India, Kunal Mukherjee must be the Crown Prince. This is a simple story simply told. It is like watching a 1970’s Hindi movie. Only, it is all true and all gay. I relived my youth. You will too.

-Hoshang Merchant, author of The Man Who Would Be Queen


A Magical Debut … Kunal Mukherjee’s touching coming-of-age story about a young gay boy in 1970s Hyderabad, My Magical Palace, is captivating.

-GayStar News


Legacy, patriarchy, coming of age and coming out of the closet are all themes that are interwoven in My Magical Palace by Kunal Mukherjee. Rahul’s love for Andrew in San Francisco doesn’t preclude him from being grist for the arranged marriage mill back in India. While Andrew refuses to let his lover live a lie, he soon begins to realise that his partner’s story is far more complicated that he can fathom, its gnarled and tangled roots anchoring him to a past and a reality that he finds incredibly difficult to pull away from. A sensitive read that gathers steam as you turn the pages, this book goes beyond being ‘gay’ literature—rather it’s a study of eternal dilemmas that defy boundaries.


The book evolved naturally from a story of loss to a complex and multi-layered themes of love, loss, forbidden love, homosexuality, pressures of fitting into the mould and breaking the rules to follow your heart. The writer …. tells a very human story through his book. (The book) …openly talks about homosexuality and the human experience of coming to terms with the fact that an individual does not have to conform to the society’s expectations.

-Times of India


Just like the palace Durga ma also plays an important role in this novel. Replete with Indian clichés like 70’s mentality, hairdos, parental pressure to become and engineer or doctor, placing religion and family honour above all else, it could be a chapter out of our lives … hard to put down, once you start, you end up being a silent observer to these food-and-ritual loving Bengalis. It is also a testimony to those few who choose to break the rules to follow their heart.

-Indian Express


My Magical Palace may be Kunal Mukherjee’s maiden venture, but his foray into …. writing has made veterans sit up and take notice. Mukherjee keeps his fingers crossed that when a reader reads his book they would go, “I know what that feels like, I can relate to this experience. The book may have been set in San Francisco, but he goes to the India of the early 1970s to draw inferences.

-Millenium Post


Set in the 1970s in Hyderabad and San Francisco, the book takes a route less travelled and narrates a sweet love story of two gay lovers.

-Deccan Chronicle


Not very often does one come across a book which highlights sensitive issues in a stark yet subtle manner … Author Kunal Mukherjee weaves in the two time frames in his narration with ease … What makes Kunal Mukherjee’s novel interesting is that it is not just about Rahul or Andrew alone. My Magical Palace is a startling picture of self realization in a much broader sense. Other characters are woven into the main plotline, each with their own stories to tell, and their own truths to seek … If anything it is a great start for readers to understand an existence they have never before given a thought to …

-Bengal Post


An ability to set those around him at ease sets first time author Kunal Mukherjee, apart from most. He seems genuinely interested in your thoughts about the world in general, not just about the book … the novel started out as a story of the universal human experience of loss and is still that at the core. But it is also a sensitive tale of a boy coming of age, and the many hurdles he must cross to find and heal himself … the chronicler of loss from San Francisco …

-Mail Today UK


My Magical Palace,” which has now been optioned for a Bollywood movie, explores Rahul’s struggle with his sexuality as he discovers that his love for screen idol Rajesh Khanna is unnatural within the strict behavioral confines of his schoolmates and his family. Love letters written to his beloved idol become objects of terror, which threaten to expose a shamed, hidden identity.

Rahul’s struggle is set against the equally tempestuous story of his cousin Mallika, who is in love with Salim, a Muslim boy she must hide from her family.

My Magical Palace” was released to much acclaim by HarperCollins India last year, and has now been optioned for a Bollywood film by Moh Entertainment’s Shamik Basu.

-India West


In a story that jumps between San Francisco in USA and post-partition Hyderabad in India we travel through simple joys, unbearable pain, raw courage, shameful fearfulness and a messed up child-mind. A simple story written with an endearing simplicity, this one is undoubtedly one of the best debuts of the year.

Kunal is a stupendous storyteller and his debut proves it. Through his protagonist, Rahul, the writer comments effectively on religion, politics, homosexuality, social taboos, culture, nature, meddlers and relationships. It is one of those rare books these days that makes you feel for the characters. You feel their pain, fear and anxiety. You want things to be set right. You don’t want anything else to go wrong because you cannot bear to feel more for the ones you have started living with. You feel for Rahul when he is rejected. You feel for Mallika when she is abused. You hate Mrs. Khosala and her kids for meddling. And you despise the patriarchs for being the pressure cookers that they always are. Not a breezy easy read but one worth every minute you spend with it.

-The Tales Pensieve


Kunal Mukherjee creates the world of 13-year-old Rahul Chatterjee in My Magical Palace, his debut novel. It is about feeling of love, loss, betrayal, and a constant sense of being an outsider; of the impact of being different and being punished for it. Mukherjee through the passages on Mint House transports the reader to the erstwhile era and along with Rahul, a reader’s imagination takes flight …

-The Tribune


If the moral of the tale — “to follow one’s heart, one has to break the rules sometimes” — sounds a little sentimental, well, it is; but then, sentimentality — even innocence — runs through Mukherjee’s first novel, set as it is in a world of home-made pickles, Enid Blyton stories, and outings to movie halls with names like Roxie. These are perfect foils for the catastrophe of forbidden love — remember The God of Small Things? — when the innocence, the nostalgia carries a persistent undertone: the magical palace is also a prison. Mukherjee tells his story in a straightforward, agreeable style …

-Hindustan Times