We are answerable for having let our religious identities drive us to killing each other. Khushwant Singh has shown us some of our handiwork in Delhi, says Amitabh Bagchi in The Outlook

khushwantsinghjiKhushwant Singh’s monumental work, Delhi: A novel, is, in the sense of the passage above, a novel about ghosts: of those who lie buried in beautiful stone mausoleums, of those who were thrown into unmarked graves, of those who were burnt on the ghats of the Yamuna and of those who became carrion for the city’s vultures. It is a novel about all the blood that has been shed in the triangular region of the North Indian plain demarcated by the ridge in the West and the South and the river in the East. It is a lament for an endless sequence of murders of brother by brother and for betrayals of lovers and fathers. It is a celebration of the seasons and the trees and the flowers, and of the life led in this city by the river through the generations. It is an old man’s admonition to the young, a free spirit’s “up yours” to blinkered puritans, and a writer’s querulous and occasionally exuberant attempt to speak truth not just to the powers of the time when the book was written, but to power across time.

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Essentialism feeds specious arguments in Capital. Perpetual City breathes a time of grace and preferment: The Outlook

capitalBooks on Delhi clearly suffer in comparison with those that embrace Mumbai, such as Maximum City or Shantaram. Only Dalrymple’s City of Djinns, written with an obvious fondness for the city’s monuments but an irreverent disdain for its inhabitants, and Sam Miller’s Megacity, with its idiosyncratic approach, come to mind. Neither, though, seeks to be representative of a city, not in the sense Rana Dasgupta’s Capital claims to be ‘A Portrait of Twenty-First Century Delhi’.

Rana Dasgupta’s Delhi book tries to deconstruct Delhi’s neuroses. Manjula Lal wishes the focus was sharper: Tehelka

Rana_Dasgupta_smallA search for the soul of Delhi can only be a wild goose chase. For the very idea of our capital city having a soul would be scoffed at by those who see it only as a temporary workplace, never a “native place”. However, it does deserve to be deconstructed and understood, not just pilloried, for what it does today, Bharat will do tomorrow. Rana Dasgupta gives the city a biography it deserves, rising above journalistic eclecticism (though there’s that, too) to tease out its idiosyncracies, its pathos and its relentless materialism. He finds the reasons why so many migrant workers, refugees and government employees prolong their stay in the belief that going back to the Rest of India is like joining a losing team.

Amazon for Authors: Navigating the Road to Self-Publishing Success

Hear how Indian authors have used Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) to build and reach audiences across a variety of genres

This event is free, but registration before 13 Feb 2014 is a must.

Guest Speakers:

  • Ajay Jain, KDP author and founder of Kunzum Travel café
  • Rasana Atreya, KDP author of Tell A Thousand Lies
  • Sri Vishwanath, KDP author of books like Give Up Your Excess Baggageand The Secret of Getting Things Done

Moving between the past and the present, this is a compelling survey of Delhi’s encounter with capitalism: Mint

capitalMarch is the prettiest month,” begins Rana Dasgupta’s sprawling, discursive account of Delhi’s energetic embrace of capitalist rhythms, “bringing flawless blooms to the dour frangipanis.” As first lines go, it is pretty enough, and, despite its inversions and adjustments, the nod to the first line of T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, is unmissable.

ShovonChowdhuryIndrajit Hazra reviews The Competent Authority by Shovon Chowdhury in The Outlook

When I started reading this, dimly aware that it’s a satirical novel, someth­ing was amiss. As signs of a comic opera on a futuristic India began to unf­old, I realised that if I swivel my brain round to read it as a work of comic science fiction, a kind of Alfred Bester minus the space-jumps and a Douglas Adams with the nerdy existentialism rep­­­­laced by dorky social realism, this was a fanatically fantastic book that uses our relationship with national news headli­nes and prime-time television as ingredients for a romp-’n-tweaked Great India Novel.

tarquin-hallFor an introduction to India’s cultural and culinary delights, you might hop a flight to Delhi or book a trip to Mumbai. But to meet the country sans passport free of airport indignities, you could just curl up with the crime novels of Tarquin Hall.

Vish Puri, Hall’s opinionated private investigator, is a 50-something Punjabi super sleuth with a fondness for family and food. The mustachioed detective cracks open India’s underbelly with a caseload that delves into forbidden love, corruption in Indian cricket and the deadly clash between science and superstition.