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India: A Million Mutinies Now Paperback – 2010

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Paperback, 2010
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Trinidadian journalist-novelist Naipaul stresses that much has changed since his 1962 trip to India, which yielded his darkly pessimistic book India: A Wounded Civilization. In this kaleidoscopic, layered travelogue, he portrays "a country of a million little mutinies," reeling with "rage and revolt," as percolating ideas of freedom shake loose the old moral ethos rooted in caste and class. Despite what he terms regional, religious and sectarian excesses, Naipaul sees possibilities for regeneration in the new freedoms, yet this skewed essay is fraught with bewilderment and sorrow as he reels off a familiar litany of problems--terrible poverty, shoddy manufactured goods, ugly neo-modern architecture, etc.--and comes to terms with his own past: his ancestors were indentured servants of Indian descent. Most interesting here are the dozens of first-person stories by Indians themselves, ranging from a wealthy young stockbroker to anti-religionists to a publisher of women's magazines. 50,000 first printing; $50,000 ad/promo; author tour.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

This book by the Trinidad-born Indian author of A Turn in the South ( LJ 3/1/89) elicits pity, anger, disgust, and a sense of betrayal at India's development since Independence. It tells of an India gone wrong, filled with economic and political corruption. Violence between conflicting religions and a greedy society obsessed with self-interest has smashed the idealism and hope of Nehru's developing secular India. Unfortunately, Naipaul concentrates on urban life, interviewing business, religious, and mob leaders in Bombay, Madras, Calcutta, and Delhi while ignoring the rural villages where the majority of India's people live. The result is an unfocused work of social-political commentary that is fine for public libraries but adds nothing new to more specialized collections. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 9/15/90-- John F. Riddick, Central Michigan Univ. Lib., Mt. Pleasant
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Picador (2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330519867
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330519861
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 1.5 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,424,341 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

61 of 65 people found the following review helpful By Timothy Ritter on November 5, 1998
Format: Paperback
India, A Million Mutinies Now is like going to India with a friend who knows everybody, and takes you to meet everybody: holy men, politicians, authors, princes, revolutionaries, gangsters, women's magazine publishers... At first, the prospect of so many interviews and anecdotes seemed daunting, but as I read on I found that somehow Naipaul was able to drop one after a few pages and go on to the next almost seamlessly, just as a skilled conversationalist moves from one group to another at a party. It's a testament to Naipaul's considerable ability as a traveler and writer.
Although the interviews and mini-biographies are all about his subjects and their lives, there is ever a sense of his presence, at once gentle and piercing, the antithesis of the loud, gauche Western tourist. He is critical without being crass, intellectual without being dreary. When he's finished, a portrait of considerable depth and color has emerged.
I got exactly what I wanted from it: a lot of perspective and innumerable fascinating details. Like the U.S., India is a pluralistic nation limited by its bigotry. Like Israel, it is sitting on a powder keg of ethnic aspirations. Like China, it has way too many people.
How they cope (or do not cope) with that last problem is a recurrent topic. A family of ten can live together in a 10'X10' room by working and sleeping in shifts. A talented young professional must turn down a good job because it requires nine hours of daily commuting through Calcutta. People are loath to walk outside because their clothing and skin gets begrimed with dust and soot in a matter of minutes. Washing is difficult because the supply of water is intermittent, as is the supply of electricity.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 10, 2002
Format: Paperback
This is a big book about India and its people. When you start to read this book you indubitably bring your own baggage of views and expectations, which color your subsequent grasp of the book and the picture it presents. I am an Indian expat and like many other expats, I am often called on to present my take on my homeland. Having grown up in India I could relate to my immediate experiences and my family. I like most Indians had no sense of history(other than the post independence interpretation found in most books on India), how they came to be and where my people are in relation to the world. India is fragmented into so many religions, classes &castes it is almost impossible for an ordinary Indian to grasp the whole.
This book by Naipaul attempts to paint a picture of the whole and define the crux of what it means to be an Indian(a very modern concept). Naipaul is perfectly suited to this task, with his curious mind and very sharp observations. After having followed India over three decades, he does have a handle on the mentality of an Indian, at the same time he relates to the wider world and has a sense of perspective. This book presents a collage of people from different parts of India, different classes, castes, religion. He attempts to find out what drives them within the wider social context and how they see themselves, their values and their expectations and how they are standing up to the changing times. His portraits are clear, sympathetic and samples the wide spectrum of India. The people we meet are a varied group, a lower caste former Naxalite leader from the south, to a former Nawab of Lucknow, gangsters from Bombay, a disillusioned Sikh, a Bengali Boxwallah... An access into the minds of such a wide cast of people is definitely the best thing about the book.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 31, 1999
Format: Paperback
It is interesting the way Naipaul talks about his motherland, at the same time completely in love with it but in a non-passionate way. He describes the different cultures in a way that makes it easy for an ocidental to understand, something that is quite difficult to be done. The descriptions are so rich that you can really discover the country and learn how to think about it. I recommend specially for those who, like me, want to travel to India: it is possible to collect really important information about how things work there.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By J. Marren VINE VOICE on September 21, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Nobel prize winner V.S. Naipaul's masterpiece on India is a must-read for any Westerner seeking a deeper understanding of India. Naipaul tells the story of this incredibly complex country person by person, through in-depth interviews of his subjects not on politics, culture or religion but on their personal lives. Naipaul tells the stories of a wide range of characters--a secretary to a prominent businessman, members of the Bombay underworld, a Marxist rebel. He tells the story of Amir, the descendant of the Raja of Mahmudabad, now living in the palace his ancestors had gotten from the British, lost after Partition, and regained after he became a successful Muslim politician in a Hindu area. And the story of Kakusthan, a modern man who returned to tradition and the life of a pure Brahmin, in a ghetto surrounded by a Muslim neighborhood. And the story of Ashok, who rejected an arranged marriage, managed to break into marketing as a career, and now struggled with the decline of the genteel, Anglo business world he had grown up in. Naipaul's great talent is in ferreting out the details of everyday life--what his people ate, wore, above all where they lived--often in tiny 10' by 10' rooms with wife and children. One comes away with a great appreciation of the notion of caste, so embedded in the society and culture for religious and non-religious alike. One also begins to appreciate what a struggle life in India is for everyone, especially those who live in cities. This book is full of stories of struggle--against tradition, to preserve tradition, between castes, between Hindu and Muslim--and of more down to earth struggles--to find a job, to find housing, to choose a career. Unfortunately Naipaul wasn't able to interview women with the ease he interviewed men--not surprising in this traditional society--and women appear only as shadowy wives and mothers in the narrative. But a great book nevertheless.
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