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AIDS Sutra: Untold Stories from India Paperback – October 14, 2008
"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
From School Library Journal
AIDS has been known in India since the 1980s. In the ensuing decades, numerous alarms have been rung, but with a few exceptions the government, health establishment, and even the constantly vaunted new middle class have perpetuated misinformation, practiced outrageous discrimination, and made little effort to offer effective treatment or prevention to the millions of people affected by or at risk of the virus (estimates for the number of people currently infected in India range from 2 to 5 million). This anthology of new essays by the literary and journalistic elite of India is intended to raise consciousness. Aside from economist Amartya Sen's foreword, which speculates about economic effects and the question of personal responsibility, the essays are all personal stories that, despite the inclusion of famous authors (including Salman Rushdie), have no distinctive literary merit. The intent to counter the belief that AIDS happens to "other people" is weakened by the fact that most of the essays describe marginal or oppressed people who will seem exotic to middle-class readers. Recommended for academic collections and large public libraries.—Lisa Klopfer, Eastern Michigan Univ., Ypsilanti
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
“An intelligent, often compelling collection of essays by noted Indian writers, demonstrates that workers on the subcontinent dealing with the disease often confront similar problems.... This important book should be read...not just by physicians, health officials and members of nongovernmental organizations but by any compassionate reader.” -Los Angeles Times “Provides a uniquely intimate glimpse into a disease that is either sterilized by statistics or ignored altogether.” -Time “Finely observed.” -The Economist “What better way to give a voice to the 2.7 million people in India living with HIV/AIDS than to enlist the country's top authors to tell their stories?” -Reuters “The range of essays is truly impressive.” -BBC News (online) “The writers here offset the numbing anonymity of numbers with portraits of stunning particularity.... The writing in the anthology is by turns tortured and beautiful as [they] show us the people behind stereotypes.” -The Wall Street Journal “A cautionary volume that stresses the need to educate, treat, and create jobs.... A forward by Nobelist Amartya Sen and an introduction by Bill and Melinda Gates both argue that we must cease stigmatizing and blaming hapless victims if we are to find real solutions.” -Kirkus Reviews“Sixteen writers, including Salman Rushdie, spotlight the normally hidden crisis of AIDS in India.... Prashant Panjir's poignant accompanying photographs sound another powerful wake-up call to the global health community and beyond.” -Booklist “These 'untold stories from India' humanize the tragedy.... The book succeeds because it is not sentimental: the writers respect the victims, admire their courage. With humility, expatriates make the arcane accessible. Those based in India have a refreshing candor.” -The Independent (London) “Absorbing.... Lately, press accounts of India have tended to focus on lavish billionaires, burgeoning tourism, powerhouse firms like Infosys.... AIDS SUTRA presents a different India, an India in which grinding poverty and sexual taboos combine with sanctimony and ignorance to fuel the spread of HIV.” -The National “The challenge of conveying extreme suffering without sentimentalising, sensationalising or simplifying is met in this collection of wide-ranging voices, both emotive and meditative.... The anthology-published in collaboration with Avahan, the India Aids Initiative of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation-shows how storytelling can help create life-saving 'fellow-feeling'.” -The Guardian “For all that India tries to present to the world the shiny face of a modern technologic giant, judging by what you read in AIDS SUTRA when it comes to sexuality it's stuck in the dark ages.... Heartbreaking.” -Blogcritics magazine “Every once in a while, you pick up a book that will change the way you look at the world. This is the intersection of writing and reading at its very best.... Extraordinary.... Without exception, these essays are superb.” -Armchair Interviews “The need for societal responsibility is further emphasized by the varying geographical and socio-economic demographics of the individuals discussed in AIDS SUTRA. ” -India Currents, The Complete Indian American Magazine “Eye-opening, hard-hitting and moving.” -Hindustan Times “Raw, intense, and heartbreaking. Ordinary characters who are living with HIV across India achieve a heightened state of humanity, and epic complexities.... An eye-opener; it dispels and looks beyond the many myths that surround the disease.” -MINT “AIDS SUTRA has brought together a galaxy of some of the best-known writers.... The mastery the writers have over their art enables them to tell the story of this 'side to India rarely seen before' with empathy and compassion.” -India Together “AIDS SUTRA: Untold Stories from India might as well have been subtitled 'Whatever You Thought, Think Again,' because this disturbing and brilliant collection of prose takes everything you thought you knew about India, grinds it all up into a bitter masala and makes you gag while drinking it all down.” -PopMatters “[A]n important, moving, and transformative read. Each story is relatively brief and gives a taste of the authors' diverse and prolific literary talents. ” -The South Asian Women's Network “The variety of authors included, and the topics they choose to focus on, is remarkable. ” -Playback: stl
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Sixteen renown authors have sketched in the outlines of an epidemic that has been shrouded in mystery and misunderstanding. Each essay is unique in scope and style. Some authors travel to specific regions to research the status of AIDS in those locations and among specific groups of people. Others tell of how AIDS came home to their own communities. Without exception, these essays are superb. The stories of India's most vulnerable men, women, and children will impact you at the deepest levels.
What makes this anthology so excellent is its ability to be both exceedingly specific and enduringly universal. The authors are well researched. They often cite specific statistics that give a precise understanding of the scope and power of the HIV virus in Indian communities. At the same time, this anthology is full of very personal stories of HIV victims and survivors. You won't just read about AIDS orphans, you will meet Shashank, Mani, and Tanu.
If you dare to read this book, you will encounter images that are devastating in their clarity. You will also find your heart enlarged and inspired by the stories of those who have survived injustice, prejudice, poverty, and an insidious virus. Most of all, you will find that the HIV positive are at once different from and yet also the same as the HIV negative.
I encourage you to pick up a copy of AIDS Sutra. Spend a few hours among the great literary talents of Salman Rushdie, Siddhartha Deb and Kiran Desai, among others. You will learn a great deal about a specific disease in a specific country, but you will also learn a great deal more about the human heart and its capacity for courage, resilience, forgiveness, love, and community.
Armchair Interviews says: A book that gives you facts and real people in horrible situations.
Will see how it continues.
Next order just after this review
Keep it up.