A novel about youth, music, the ghosts of friendship, and how colonial legacies pervade personal histories, the story spans India and Skye, seeing the characters exorcise past ghosts in order to face the present.
— Damian Barr / Damian Barr's Literary Salon 'Book of The Week'
New Skin For The Old Ceremony: A Kirtan is Arun's debut novel,published by 404 Ink in 2022. The novel follows four estranged friends who reunite for a motorcycle trip up the Isle of Skye, in the hope of coming to terms with how their lives have splintered since a transformative ride in Northern India fourteen years earlier. In their fumbling attempts to spiritually reconnect, expectant father Raj, recently widowed Vidushei, perpetually youthful Liam, and perpetually fragile Bobby test the limits of their friendship around campfires, on twisty roads, in unexpected Ayahuasca ceremonies, and against discussions of belonging, race, and identity.
The form of this novel alludes to a Kirtan - a Hindu genre of storytelling focusing on music, shared narration, and spiritual ideas. Kirtans typically draw on Vedic texts but Arun subverts the form by structuring the Kirtan in relation to tracks from a Leonard Cohen album, New Skin For The Old Ceremony, which the characters grew fond of during their time in India.