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The Revised Kama Sutra: A Novel of Colonialism and Desire Paperback – December 1, 2005

4.4 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Paperback, December 1, 2005

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Editorial Reviews


"A delightful and zany debut. Touching. The Empire striking back at the new colonists, the land of Coca Cola and Kentucky Chicken. . .chutzpah . . . a no-holds-barred attitude towards all holy cows." --India Today 

Exuberant, unabashedly raunchy picaresque novel . . . indefatigable good humor transcends the personal to stand for the contradictions and struggles of India as a whole. Considerable, irreverent charm.--Publishers Weekly 

"I salute you as a full-fledged colleague. Yes, I am reading you and finding you very funny!"--Kurt Vonnegut --Kurt Vonnegut's letter to the author 

"Hilarious contemporary Indian novel shot with some serious undercurrents . . . a rich and multifaceted novel . . . an indictment of colonialism and the colonial legacy on which we depend. A surrealist vision of India . . . Important."--The Hindu

"Very funny" --Kurt Vonnegut, in a letter to the author

From the Author

This book took me a lot of courage to write and publish, and it was by far the boldest book to come out of India until that time. I wanted to say things that had never been said, and that could get you arrested if you tried to say them in print, in India. My editor was nervous about the book getting banned, and at least one newspaper suggested that I should at least be excommunicated. It was hard work, but it also gave me joy to write what no one had ever written before. It is the first book of my Freedom Trilogy--the second and third are "Impressing the Whites" and "The Killing of an Author." The idea behind the Freedom Trilogy is that Indians have equal right to the highest freedom any writer anywhere is permitted, and my refusal to write like a good colonial citizen, as Indians were expected to write. --Richard Crasta, the author

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 333 pages
  • Publisher: Invisible Man Books; 2005 edition (December 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 8187185074
  • ISBN-13: 978-8187185079
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.5 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #13,229,512 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
The book is probably the most candid and frank exposition of an Indian man's discovery of sex with all its 'cosmic' implications! Switching rapidly from the mundane and the comic to the more serious and profound, Crasta is able to get to the very core of the Indian duplicity towards a very important and basic aspect of our lives. At the same time, it takes a wry look at attempts for political change and tries to find out their roots and underlying motives. The book is hilarious and I have read it on more than a couple of occassions. Highly recommended. Mohit Misra.
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Format: Hardcover
Any book that can force me, against my will, to guffaw out loud while reading it in public places is to be treasured. "The Revised Kama Sutra" was as rife with inventive comic imagery as "A Confederacy of Dunces," as insightful and subtly searing as "Catcher in the Rye," and as sensuous as the Kama Sutra itself. Although I've never been to India, I felt I experienced the lively streets, people, colors, aromas, shapes and sounds of the cities mentioned in the book right along with the author. It's a cliche to say, "you'll laugh, you'll cry!," but that truly is the case with this book--I recommend it, you'll savor each page.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Affected by the Western rationalism and science of his school books, the poor but brilliant Vijay rejects the rigid code of South Indian Catholicism, giving up God, religion, and his dream of becoming a saint. From there, Vijay's story becomes a search for meaning in a godless material world.

To borrow a bit from a perceptive previous review, Revised Kama Sutra is an exuberant Catcher In The Rye, a South Indian Confederacy of Dunces, spiced with the author's indefatigable love of hilarious word play. Unlike Catcher and COD, though, Kama is auto-biographical (if not, my apologies to the author!).

So far, so good. You might want to read it. But if I add it's a story about obsession with sex (not that Vijay gets much), will you change your mind? Can't be helped. It's the gut-busting hilarity of Vijay's quest to lose his virginity that keeps the story moving.

We are all obsessed. The difference between most of us and Vijay is that we hide away our obsessions or sublimate them under something more suitable for public viewing.

So there it is. That's what the book's about. But good stories usually have something more. A Western reader learns: what Pax Brittania and Pax Americana look like from the other side; about grinding third world poverty seen not through the eyes of Western pity but as a normal everyday reality; how traditional power structures dominate traditional societies despite a veneer of outside Western values (ie, not much chance we're going to make any real societal changes in Afghanistan and Iraq with an army); the way the English language permeates everything, is pursued by everyone, and becomes something new in the process (this last, fascinating to me as a linguist).

Revised Kama Sutra is not your standard novel by a long shot.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I must say that I found the title somewhat misleading -- at first -- but after reading the book I realized that the author was really narrating the dynamics of sex -- or the search for it -- in India.
The following paragraph is all-enclosing: "The Europeisation of Catholic India from its original cleanliness to hopefully bathless odor state" sums up the underlying process, in my opinion.
I believed in the stereotypical notion that India lived under one big sex bash. After reading this novel I have revised my trans-cultural knowledge.
Mr. Crasta did send me quite frequently to my Kindle's handy dictionary, which is something I generally like. Nothing like building up my vocabulary as I read a story.
Just one comment off my head: I'm from Panama, and I find that Vijay Prabhu's complaints made me recall quite a few situations in my Jesuit Catholic school upbringing.
This is a serious book, though written with sarcastic wit.
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Format: Paperback
This novel is the coming of age story of Vijay Prabhu from Mangalore, in Western India. Vijay is a small town boy who has big ideas - lofty plans to salvage the world, harbors an American dream, and of course has a maddening desire to lose his virginity (to meet the ambitious target of 100 women). However, Vijay is growing up in the India of 1960' and 70s - a third world country, cloistered in a small town, with an impoverished family and studying in puritanical religious - educational establishment. These conditions continuously challenge his ambitions and longings. In this back drop, the novel presents a compelling story of Vijay's unwavering quest to search his dreams, his struggles, his unexpected success, his failures, his first American visit fiasco and the travails of satisfying his overactive libido.

Another strong point of the novel is its exquisite portrayal of the life and times of India and Mangalore in particular. The author successfully captures the zeitgeist of the 60s and 70s socialist India- the commie propaganda, the isolation from West, food shortages, morality, the idealism, Radio Ceylon, Readers Digest, PL480, Grunding tapes, and so on. (It was nostalgic.) The author gives a detailed and lively glimpse of small town life and people in India. The vivid description of the local food (so much a part of the social life in India) give the novel an authentic flavour one cant miss.

The novel is lively with humour, wit, play of words, the delicious turn of phrase. The sardonic pleasure with which the author pokes fun of the prohibitions, the taboos and the traditions of the times gives the novel a delectable pungency.

However, I felt that the novel is overcast with Vijay Prabhu's sexual encounters.
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