Shortlisted for the BBC Samuel Johnson Prize 2010. Winner of the 2010 Asia House Award for Asian Literature.
A Buddhist monk takes up arms to resist the Chinese invasion of Tibet - then spends the rest of his life trying to atone for the violence by hand printing the best prayer flags in India. A Jain nun tests her powers of detachment as she watches her best friend ritually starve herself to death. Nine people, nine lives; each one taking a different religious path, each one an unforgettable story. William Dalrymple delves deep into the heart of a nation torn between the relentless onslaught of modernity and the ancient traditions that endure to this day.
©2009 William Dalrymple (P)2011 Audible Ltd
"An absolutely beautiful book, clean and honest and edifying and moving. I love so much about it: a delight." (Elizabeth Gilbert)
"Dalrymple's study of people and beliefs in India ranks with the very finest travel writing.... A series of biographies which unpick the rich religious heritage of the subcontinent, it makes its political points more powerfully than any newspaper article and displays deep knowledge of the culture." (Observer)
Dalrymple's book is perfectly decent – sympathetic and informative, though he does rather make all his nine characters sound very like each other. Comes of having to work through interpreters, I suppose, but a good enough job, attentive and respectful. The audio performance, however, is *unforgivably* bad. The generic 'Indian' accents, owing more to Peter Sellers than to any kind of speech actually to be heard in India, were embarrassing enough. But that was a relatively mild problem. Almost no research seemed to have gone into getting the pronunciations of Indian words and place names right: after the first couple of hours, it became almost comic anticipating the next mangling of an Indian name. Rather it would have been comic if weren't so offensive. I don't mean that there were a few mispronunciations here and there – virtually *every* Indian word is mispronounced, the stress inexplicably put on the final syllable (something which almost never happens in Indian languages). Sometimes the reader couldn't even get the consonants in the right order (Ramayana? Ramanaya?) Sometimes he mangled even *English* words (toddy, jaggery) with Indian etymologies. And in the final story, the producers seem to have gone to sleep – failing to cut out his false starts and stammering. A pathetic excuse for an audiobook. Listeners, and the book, deserve better. I'd ask for my money back if I could.
I loved listening to this book, full of amazing detail and educational in so many ways.
Depicts many things that need to change and also which need to be preserved.
I would recommend this to anyone passionate about India!
This book is rather long to keep listening to. But the people's life stories and beliefs are fascinating. Modern India seems a long way away - these people remind me of religious orders from Medieval times in Europe.
"Interesting stories, distracting naration"
Ranks in the middle
Yes, interesting writing style and great insights into India, though can get a little bogged down.
Several recording errors were left in the recording, which was pretty annoying.
I found the narrators Indian accents a little distracting at times, especially as at times they were a little over the top. Some of the quoted dialogue came across as a little unnatural, which I would attribute to the narrator 'over performing' the lines.
No, not a 'page turner' as such.
A book to be in the right mood for, but some really interesting material. Unfortunately, the narration probably detracted more than it added.
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