A Beginner’s Guide to Dying in India

Part comedy, part tragedy, part henna-drawn thriller peppered with romance and intrigue, A Beginner’s Guide to Dying in India is a spiritual journey across the continents of the soul.

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Winner, IP Picks 09 Best Fiction Award

Part comedy, part tragedy, part henna-drawn thriller peppered with romance and intrigue, A Beginner’s Guide to Dying in India is a spiritual journey across the continents of the soul.

Commencing in Australia and traversing toward the climactic scene in the snowy mountains of Northern India, this novel crosses exotic external and internal terrains with humour, sharp wit and a resonance that expands with each chapter.

While confronted with mounting grief and loss in Australia, Levi is suddenly called to India by his brother and delves, though somewhat reluctantly, into the shifting sands of his own spirituality. In fulfilling his dying brother’s wishes, Levi embarks on a path intersecting with adventure, new found friends, a treasure trove of riches (and not just the material kind

Josh Donellan

Josh Donellan is the winner of the 2009 IP Picks Best Fiction and was a finalist in The National Youth Week Writer’s competition in 2008. He completed his first novel at seventeen, and independently published his second, What Rhymes with Chaos? in 2008. Josh has exhibited his poetry and installation work at Queensland’s prestigious Brisbane Powerhouse. Josh is an author, poet, musician, installation artist, teacher and event manager. He was almost devoured by a tiger in the jungles of Malaysia, nearly died of a lung collapse in the Nepalese Himalayas, fended off a pack of rabid dogs with a guitar in the mountains of India and was sexually harassed by a half-naked man whilst standing next to Oscar Wilde’s grave in Paris. He has an unnatural fondness for Scrabble and an irrational dislike of frangipanis.


It’s 9:36am and my house is on fire.
My name is Levi. Welcome to the ruins of my life. This is the beginning of my story, which is the only thing I have left. If you’re looking for a story filled with romantic intrigue, muscle-bound heroes or international espionage, then put this down with all the desperate urgency of an adulterer clambering into the closet at the sound of keys rattling in the door. This isn’t a story to read at the airport. This is a story about death, love, redemption, perception and all the little things that go in between that don’t matter but seem like they do. Now, where were we? Ah yes. My house is on fire.

Take a moment to imagine, if you will, a glorious blaze enshrouding your home and all your possessions contained within. Every piece of overpriced furniture, every unwanted Christmas gift you never removed from its box. Every pair of underwear and socks worn threadbare that you meant to throw away but never did. The flames take all of this and more. They feed, they feast, on everything you own in all the world.

Your flatscreen television: gone. Your brand new MacBook: gone. Every love letter you ever received: (which is not as many as you would have liked) gone. Every book that sat read or unread on your shelf: gone.

Every photograph.

Every nick-nack.

Every keepsake, memento, t-shirt, collectible. Gone daddy gone.

All that’s left is the heat and the light blazing. Fiery tongues licking at the shoes of heaven. There is nothing left.


Now I’m standing in the light of the flames and I’m joined by a chorus of ‘oh my gods!’ and the mobile red light disco of the fire brigade. This is not, by anyone’s standards, a good start to the day. Want to hear the worst part? This isn’t the beginning. Let’s go back exactly 56 minutes.

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Ebook, PB


ePub, PB, pdf

Customer Reviews

1-5 of 1 review

  • IP (Interactive Publications Pty Ltd)

    So your house burns down, your gff cuts sick and joins a cult, and you lose your job. What do you do? You could make like Harmony Korine when his house burnt down and move to Peru to hunt magical fish. You could exact revenge. You could become a ‘suit’ and join the nine to fivers. Levi, protagonist of A Beginners Guide to Dying in India, instead, finds himself diving headlong into a curious adventure into the depths of India (extremities included).

    This debut novel from local boy J. M. Donellan is freaking hilarious. It’s got all indicators of a great novel, including the ones that shouldn’t be. Anecdotal and strange, he uses a language of an American comedian with a sort of British wit. When an author quotes George Michael (guilty feet have got no rhythm) during the opening chapter in relation to workplace politics you know you should keep reading. Read it. Burn it. That may well be the point.

    – Sarah Werkmeister, FourThousand

    July 27, 2023

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