The House Next to the Factory

Sonal Kohli

The House Next to the Factory shows a changing India over three decades through the lens of one family and the house that they live in.

Life in the house is humdrum and confining, but on a rare evening out, Kavya sets off in search of a nun; a beloved teacher is caught in the aftermath of the anti-Sikh riots; a loyal servant worries over his relationship with a low caste woman; while in England, an aunt reads William Trevor and pines for all that she has left behind. Over the years, the family’s steel utensil business blossoms, and amid the clanging of metal and the churning of machines, the household transitions from bourgeois to elite. Yet at thirty, Kavya finds herself in Paris, hoping to get past the sorrows of her young life…

Delicate and finely textured, Sonal Kohli’s extraordinary debut lays bare the complexities of class and culture and the difficulties as well as excitements of change, even as it evokes loves and triumphs, the pull of incongruous desires and the tragedies of everyday life.


ISBN: 9781800751316

Published: November 3, 2022


ISBN: 9781800751330

Published: November 7, 2024


ISBN: 9781800751323

Published: November 3, 2022


Reviews for The House Next to the Factory

‘What links Sonal Kohli’s beautiful, perspicacious stories is an aspirational India informed by historical and economic change …. she has a way of absorbing the reader in her world, and also revealing very delicately how that world is surprising, unexpected, and in flux’ – Amit Chaudhuri

‘In quietly ambitious prose, Sonal Kohli charts the turbulent three decades of a ‘rising’ India. The House Next to the Factory is one of the very rare fictions to examine the immense human costs – profound emotional and psychological disorientations – that the Indian bourgeoisie has paid for its material success’ – Pankaj Mishra

‘Sonal Kohli’s stories of a modern India continually feeling the reverberations of its own turbulent history are finely observed and richly atmospheric. Her clean, precise prose is alive with immediacy, and she excels at capturing moments of resonant stillness and unexpected change in her characters’ quietly complicated lives’ Carys Davies

‘Kohli layers story on top of story with finesse and grace. An abiding collection from a highly skilled observer of lives and places’ Ruby Cowling

Thoughtful, delicate and wide-ranging, The House Next to the Factory is a testament to the often-overlooked power of the ordinary’ – Madhuri Vijay


Sonal Kohli

Sonal Kohli grew up in Delhi and now lives in Washington, D.C. She has an MA in Creative Writing from UEA, and a BA in Economics from Shri Ram College of Commerce, Delhi University. Her stories have been shortlisted for the Bristol Short Story Prize and the Fish Short Story Prize. This is her first book.