Review: Single Man: The Life and Times of Nitish Kumar of Bihar by Sankarshan Thakur


Sankarshan Thakur’s biography of Nitish Kumar is also an intimate portrait of Bihar, a state you may be forced out of but cannot really ever leave: Open

Singleman‘Patna is not a nice place to be.’

It is not easy to write about a place you don’t want to live in anymore, yet return to. You describe its ugliness with fondness. You sought, forever, to escape it. Yet Sankarshan Thakur, roving editor with The Telegraph and author of Subaltern Saheb: Bihar and the Making of Laloo Yadav, returned to Bihar to profile Chief Minister Nitish Kumar in Single Man and the change that everyone is talking about. And this is a richer book for the author’s decision to join that narrative and position himself within it.

In this nonlinear narrative, much like the state it is about—disjointed and disrupted—he starts by describing Patna, the capital. Though he seems to dismiss it in the opening line, Thakur says it is home. This city, he writes, is ‘… an obliging showcase to a dire state, rowdy and irredeemably ramshackle’.

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