India: A Wounded Civilization

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In 1975, at the height of Indira Gandhi’s “Emergency,” V. S. Naipaul returned to India, the country his ancestors had left one hundred years earlier. Out of that journey he produced this concise masterpiece: a vibrant, defiantly unsentimental portrait of a society traumatized by centuries of foreign conquest and immured in a mythic vision of its past.

Drawing on novels, news reports, political memoirs, and his own encounters with ordinary Indians–from a supercilious prince to an engineer constructing housing for Bombay’s homeless–Naipaul captures a vast, mysterious, and agonized continent inaccessible to foreigners and barely visible to its own people. He sees both the burgeoning space program and the 5,000 volunteers chanting mantras to purify a defiled temple; the feudal village autocrat and the Naxalite revolutionaries who combined Maoist rhetoric with ritual murder. Relentless in its vision, thrilling in the keenness of its prose, India: A Wounded Civilization is a work of astonishing insight and candor.


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About the author

V. S. Naipaul was born in Trinidad in 1932. He went to England on a scholarship in 1950. After four years at Oxford he began to write, and since then he has followed no other profession. He is the author of more than twenty books of fiction and nonfiction and the recipient of numerous honors, including the Nobel Prize in 2001, the Booker Prize in 1971, and a knighthood for services to literature in 1990. He lives in Wiltshire, England.


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Additional Information

Publisher
Vintage
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Published on
Apr 6, 2011
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Pages
176
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ISBN
9780307789341
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Asia / India & South Asia
Social Science / Human Geography
Travel / Asia / India & South Asia
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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"Brilliant. . . . A powerfully observed, stylistically elegant exploration." --The New York Times

A New York Times Notable Book of the Year

"The book's strength lies in Naipaul's extraordinary ability as a storyteller to draw striking portraits of a cross section of individuals."--The Boston Globe

Fourteen years after the publication of his landmark travel narrative Among the Believers, V. S. Naipaul returned to the four non-Arab Islamic countries he reported on so vividly at the time of Ayatollah Khomeini's triumph in Iran. Beyond Belief is the result of his five-month journey in 1995 through Indonesia, Iran, Pakistan, and Malaysia--lands where descendants of Muslim converts live at odds with indigenous traditions, and where dreams of Islamic purity clash with economic and political realities.

In extended conversations with a vast number of people--a rare survivor of the martyr brigades of the Iran-Iraq war, a young intellectual training as a Marxist guerilla in Baluchistan, an impoverished elderly couple in Teheran whose dusty Baccarat chandeliers preserve the memory of vanished wealth, and countless others--V. S. Naipaul deliberately effaces himself to let the voices of his subjects come through. Yet the result is a collection of stories that has the author's unmistakable stamp. With its incisive observation and brilliant cultural analysis, Beyond Belief is a startling and revelatory addition to the Naipaul canon.

"Highly accomplished. . . . Another display of Naipaul's remarkable talent." --The Independent (London)
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