From Publishers Weekly
Bewildering diversity is the very essence of India, observes novelist and columnist Tharoor (The Great Indian Novel
) in this engaging collection of essays, which tries to reconcile the country's clashing traditions with progress and liberalism. Hinduism's promiscuous openness to other beliefs and cultures makes it a model of secular tolerance, he argues, though Hindu fundamentalist bigotry is his favorite target. Tharoor also insists that ancient Indian science anticipated quantum mechanics, and praises his home state of Kerala for raising female literacy rates. (In a rare nostalgic note, he mourns the demise of the sari, then fences with a backlash of critical e-mail responses from pants-wearing women.) Most of all, he celebrates India's compatibility with the global economy, a stance that occasionally shades into business boosterism. Many pieces are drawn from Tharoor's columns and feature quick, sketchy takes on Indian cultural touchstones, from political corruption to Bollywood to cricket; his themes tend to be repeated rather than developed. But Tharoor's ready wit-an Indian without a horoscope is like an American without a credit card-and sympathetic insight combine in a fascinating portrait of Indian society. (Oct.)
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“I’m enthralled by the writing of Shashi Tharoor, his remarkable erudition and insight. For me, his work has been an illuminating introduction to India.” (Joseph Heller
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