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Twilight in Delhi (New Directions Paperbook) Paperback – May 17, 1994

4.2 out of 5 stars 67 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

As literature, Ali's first novel is reasonably interesting, a sort of awkwardly written, Delhi-based Buddenbrooks . As history and cultural record, though, it is fascinating. Originally published in Britain in 1940 and making its first appearance in the U.S., Twilight concerns the upper-class Muslim merchant Mir Nihal and his extended family. Mir Nihal and his wife were young children during the 1857 Mutiny and the resultant brutality on both sides. Now, in 1911, two of their sons work in government offices and the third one wears English shirts and shoes--a sure sign of Delhi's imminent demise. Even the present crop of anti-British activists are beyond Mir Nihal's ken--"He was one of those who had believed in fighting with naked swords in their hands. The young only agitated." Mir Nihal's intense nationalism often seems ahistorical in retrospect--Hindu feeling ran just as strongly against Muslim "occupiers" once the hated English left. The real residual power of the mogul golden age is not political (the surviving descendants of Bahadur Shah are all beggars and cripples) but cultural, and Ali's book is first and foremost a tender record of traditional family ceremonies, of kite battles and the old aristocratic hobby of pigeon flying. The cries of the pigeon flyers are the ubi sunt accompanying Ali's portrayal of the parallel decline of Mir Nihal's family and of mogul Delhi.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

In this novel written in English and completed in 1939, Ali, an Urdu-speaking native of India, commemorated the daily melody of traditional life in the old city of Delhi among the last, impoverished heirs to the refined Mogul civilization that dominated India until the advent of the English. Set during the early years of this century, it recaptures the texture of family life for Mir Nihal, a well-born Muslim who loves pigeons and whose son wants to get married. It recounts how that son, Asgar, fell in love, married, fell out of love, had a daughter, and became a widower. Ali's Proustian command of detail makes this archetypically human story sing. When, for instance, cats manage to kill Mir Nihal's pigeons, Ali makes us feel a visceral sense of his loss--and of his impending doom. At book's end, Mir Nihal lies bedridden after a stroke, Asgar is widowed, and the English have torn down Delhi's ancient walls and are building a "New Delhi" that will swamp the old. A perfect novel, the more valuable for its unique subject. John Shreffler

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4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5
67 customer ratings
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Top international reviews

Sheila S
4.0 out of 5 stars A Fascinating Insight into Life in Delhi in the early 20th century
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 23, 2017
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S. Taylor
5.0 out of 5 stars Enlightening and atmospheric
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 31, 2012
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nasim marie jafry
4.0 out of 5 stars Quirky and poetic
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 26, 2015
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D. E. Condon
5.0 out of 5 stars Informed and sensitive narrative, evocative of the essence of ...
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 29, 2014
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Anil Kumar Sharma
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 27, 2020
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Parvati P.
4.0 out of 5 stars An evocative classic
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 28, 2009
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AMIT PURI
5.0 out of 5 stars ... true Delhiite being born and brought up in this great and a historic city for centuries I can wholly ...
Reviewed in India on October 21, 2016
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Arvind S
5.0 out of 5 stars Distinctive language, but a picture of a parochial world
Reviewed in India on February 21, 2016
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vivek
5.0 out of 5 stars Ahmed ali what should i say
Reviewed in India on September 12, 2013
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Sujay Ghosh
4.0 out of 5 stars Good first hand account.
Reviewed in India on July 17, 2017
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GreatGains
4.0 out of 5 stars Memories from a dead city
Reviewed in India on September 26, 2013
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Kaniraj
4.0 out of 5 stars Delhi's Malgudi Days!
Reviewed in India on June 6, 2016
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Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars The delivery was in time and the packaging was great. Twilight in Delhi is a great book if ...
Reviewed in India on June 29, 2017
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Nitin Bhandarkar
3.0 out of 5 stars Nothing great
Reviewed in India on March 2, 2019
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Yashi Sinha
3.0 out of 5 stars Death throes of Mughal society
Reviewed in India on September 9, 2017
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