"A passionate account of the Beats at home and in the world. Baker captures the range of their artistic and spiritual passions, as well as their pettiness, their tantrums, their always difficult loves. Her tenderness and finely tuned humor, as well as her ease in both cultures, makes her a perfect recreator of this ornery band of seekers. And of the ways in which India and the United States have understood and misunderstood each other over the ages. A truly vivid, wonderful book."
-Kiran Desai, author of The Inheritance of Loss
"Sympathetic without being sycophantic, Deborah Baker has made an important and vivid contribution to our understanding of the Beats, both as phenomenon and as individuals. More broadly, A Blue Hand
is an original and entrancing account of how India expanded the possibilities of western consciousness."
--Geoff Dyer, author of Out of Sheer Rage
"A fabulous book - comic, tragic, and written with great verve and nerve -about the Beats and their 'passage to India'. It is a remarkable saga of various lives and stories all drawn together by Deborah Baker - the biographer as adventurer."
"'Beat' was short for 'beatitude,' and India was the place to find it. A Blue Hand
is a deeply researched, elegantly written account of those days of divine, induced, and congenital madness- the last adventures in American poetry."
"This is a haunting portrait of a band of poets bravely, if naively, taking on drugs, disease, unbridled passion, and the whole of Indian religious history, in an adventure that never fails to move and often instructs. A fascinating history of the weirdest moment in the long and ongoing European and American search for the answer to it all in India."
-Wendy Doniger, Mircea Eliade Distinguished Service Professor of the History of Religions in the Divinity School, University of Chicago
"I boarded those third class trains to enlightenment, and befriended the fragile heroes of this book. Deborah Baker's narrative is concise, rich, unsentimental and shows how, just like India, a spiritual journey is grotesque, sublime, comical, but never sad."
"A beautiful book! As deftly woven and fully-realized as a novel, this is a fascinating, original work of scholarship, following the beat poets on their journeys to India in a way that illuminates their inner lives, their poetry and the fantastical nature of pilgrimage itself." -Melanie Thernstrom, author of Halfway Heaven
In 1990 Deborah Baker moved to Calcutta where she studied Bengali and wrote In Extremis: The Life of Laura Riding
, a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize in Biography. Since then, her essays have appeared in a range of publications from The New York Times
to the Calcutta Statesmen. With her husband, the writer Amitav Ghosh, and her two children Lila and Nayan, she now divides her time between Calcutta, Goa and Brooklyn.