Lessons in Love and Other Crimes


Elizabeth Chakrabarty

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SKU: 9781911648222 Category:

B format paperback with flaps
288 pages
15 April 2021
ISBN 9781911648222
Cover design © House of Thought

Longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize 2022!

Tesya has reasons to feel hopeful after leaving her last job, where she was subjected to a series of anonymous hate crimes. Now she is back home in London to start a new lecturing position, and has begun an exciting, if tumultuous, love affair with the enigmatic Holly. But this idyllic new start quickly sours.

Tesya finds herself victimized again at work by an unknown assailant, who subjects her to an insidious, sustained race hate crime. As her paranoia mounts, Tesya finds herself yearning for the most elemental desires: love, acceptance, and sanctuary. Her assailant, meanwhile, is recording his manifesto, and plotting his next steps.

Inspired by the author’s personal experiences of hate crime and bookended with essays which contextualise the story within a lifetime of microaggressions, Lessons in Love and Other Crimes is a heart-breaking, hopeful, and compulsively readable novel about the most quotidian of crimes.


‘One of the most gripping and powerful books I’ve ever read; I feel so represented as a queer, brown woman.’
Nikita Gill

‘A story you won’t be able to get out of your head.’

‘Fierce, contemporary and completely absorbing, Lessons in Love and Other Crimes is a fresh and forensic novel asking ages-old questions – what makes a writer? What makes a lover? And pressing for our moment now – what makes a racist? Part thriller, part elegy to modern British life, this novel will shock some readers while others will cheer as Elizabeth Chakrabarty ties the many threads of an everyday crime into an extraordinary lovers’ knot. Formally inventive and erotically charged, compassion and intelligence shine through every sentence Chakrabarty writes.’
Preti Taneja, author of We That Are Young

‘Gripping and unnerving, a story about the relentlessness of racism.’
Catherine Mayer

‘An important new voice for our troubled times. Vibrant and passionate storytelling.’
Tessa McWatt

‘A thoughtful exploration of everyday racist aggressions (both micro and more significant) — and the impact they can have on an individual’s personal and professional life.’
Winnie M Li

Lessons In Love and Other Crimes

I don’t know how it’s going to end. Even now I’m home here in London, it’s unfinished, so when I think about it even for a second I’m back there:the most unpleasant, humiliating, frightening experience I’ve ever had. I don’t know who was behind it, what they wanted. I don’t know whether they’re still out to get me.

I haven’t told anyone my absolute fear, can’t say it aloud: I’m frightened for my life. I thought being at home would make it go away, but it hasn’t. Fear follows me like a shadow. When I open doors, I go carefully, worrying who might be waiting there, what might happen next. When I hear footsteps behind me in the dark, I walk faster, clutching my mobile in my pocket, ready to dial the police once more. Then my heart beats faster and faster, like it’ll break through my skin, my body telling me I’m alive I’m alive, despite what’s out there, who’s out there.

Who’s out there? That’s still the question.

Waiting for whatever happens next, the unknown, curtail show I live. Early on I was told to be careful about revealing where I am, especially on social media. But that was going to be difficult: I’m a writer and performer, I have to publicize what I’m doing, events in public places.

The police officer said, ‘Well, just use it in a limited way, do what you have to do. Make sure friends know your whereabouts.’ Then, ‘Do you have a partner?’

‘Um, not at the moment.’

I understood why she asked, but my answer made me feel worse. I had been dating but nothing that had gone anywhere.

She asked the obvious question: ‘Is there anyone who might have a grudge against you, a colleague or an ex-partner?’

I’ve had my fair share of difficult relationship endings, but no one I know would treat me like this, at least I hope not. What’s happened has even tainted my memory of love, like love is a kind of mental illness.

I shook my head.

‘Are you sure?’

‘I’m not sure about anything at the moment. It’s difficult to trust people, but I can’t think of anyone I know who would do this.’

I wish I had someone, someone who makes me feel safe, to love and be loved by, but I don’t. I’m on my own. What’s happened has made meeting even beautiful strangers fraught. The idea that someone who has seen me around, probably spoken to me, could do that makes me wary of people even offering me a drink when I’m in a bar, or asking me out. But now friends say I have to get on with living, and love is what’s missing. Love might annihilate the memories. Perhaps.

Benedicte Page for The Bookseller, 6 April 2022: Desmond Elliott Prize longlist

Mhari Aitchison for Dundee University Review of the Arts, 31 May 2021: Review: Lessons in Love and Other Crimes

Alys Keys for The i, 23 April 2021: Lessons in Love and Other Crimes by Elizabeth Chakrabarty, review: an innovative hybrid novel

Mariah Feria for Lunate, 17 April 2021: Lessons in Love and Other Crimes by Elizabeth Chakrabarty

This Is My Voice podcast, 12 March 2021: This Is My Voice: Elizabeth Chakrabarty

Farhana Shaikh for The Asian Writer, 8 February 2021: ‘Books to read in 2021’ 

Layla Haidrani for Cosmopolitan UK, 22 December 2020: ‘69 new books by Black and POC authors out in 2021′

This is an exclusive essay published by The Indigo Press

On closure and crime

When did you first realise you have white privilege? 

Elizabeth Chakrabarty

Exclusive to The Indigo Press, our authors have written moving, insightful and entertaining works in conjunction with and in celebration of the publication of their books with the press.

From passionate and polemic essays to compelling quizzes that reveal who you really are, read about everything from the #MeToo movement to the possibility of starting your life again.

Click here to read Elizabeth’s exclusive essay ‘On Closure and Crime’.


Elizabeth’s recommended reading list

A glorious long novel that plays with the form, while being as absorbing as its mesmerising and mysterious characters on the Greek island where we are taken in a feat of storytelling.

An intense and entertaining crime thriller, based on true experience, of an author being stalked in this technological era where those working in the public eye are easily contactable.

An absorbing literary novel set in the university of the twenty-first century in the precarious era of academic redundancies and student activism, and of five people searching for something more, in their overlapping and intercutting journeys across London’s metropolis.

This warm, humane, funny and sometimes tragic Booker-winning novel immerses the reader in the interconnected worlds of its female characters, from girls to women in the 80s, up to this new era of non-binary gender, sexuality and giving voice to the other; a ground-breaking novel centring the black female gaze.


Rapidly written and published, in this slim volume of essays Zadie Smith’s as always acute eye explores the video-calls, work and privilege of this Covid-era.

By Britain’s most prolific playwright more appreciated on the continent of Europe than at home, Neighbourhood Watch, like Ayckbourn’s other works, appears as domestic comedy but shines a light on insidious undercurrents lurking beneath the veneer of British apparent-social respectability.


This beautiful heart-breaking but life-affirming novel starting after World War Two, takes the reader backwards in time to the blitz, exploring how memories triggered in the present by the psychological and real bombs detonated in the past, leave shards in the four characters’ present poignant lives where they excavate what’s left of love and power after loss.

A gripping seeming meta-fiction, a blur of author memoir and intriguing literary thriller: an author called Delphine makes a new friend, and this friendship takes over her life and even her writing, and then rapidly becomes a disturbance to her whole existence.

This is ground-breaking powerful twenty-first century poetry that asks questions of art, culture and individuals, exposing the dangerous minutiae and machinations of white privilege, in interpersonal relations and in the public sphere.


The father of psychoanalysis, Freud explores the lessons of humanity and inhumanity from literature and art in these key essays, including ‘The ‘Uncanny’’ and ‘Psychopathic Characters on the Stage’.

This is the YA novel so many of us wish we’d had when we were young: a fast-paced intercultural Romeo and Juliet which inverts our contemporary racial power balance, exposing how and why white privilege and power works against racial justice.

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