John Lock has come to India to meet his destiny, fleeing the quiet desperation of his life in England--decades wasted in a meaningless job, a marriage foundering in the wake of loss, and a terrible secret he cannot bear to share with his wife--to offer his help to a man who has learned to conquer pain, a world record-breaker who specializes in feats of extreme endurance and ill-advised masochism.
Bibhuti Nayak has survived forty-three kicks to the unprotected groin in ninety seconds, three forty-pound slabs of concrete smashed over his groin with a sledgehammer, and thirty-one watermelons dropped on his stomach in one minute from a height of more than thirty feet. His next record attempt--to have fifty baseball bats broken over his body--will be the crowning moment in a career that has seen him rise from poverty to become a minor celebrity in a nation where standing out from the crowd requires tenacity, courage, and perhaps a touch of madness.
John is welcomed into Bibhuti's family and into the color and chaos of Mumbai, where he encounters Ping-Pong-playing monks, a fearless seven-year-old martial arts warrior, and an old man who longs for the monsoon to wash him away. As he and Bibhuti take their leap of faith together, John sets out to rewrite a brave end to a life poorly lived.