New books on India offer brilliant reporting, despite crude conclusionsby Anjali Joseph / July 19, 2012 / Leave a comment
Published in August 2012 issue of Prospect Magazine
Recent books have tried to capture the essence of India—but is it possible to draw conclusions from a country of a billion people?
Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Slum
By Katherine Boo (Granta, £14.99)
India Becoming: A Portrait of Life in Modern India
By Akash Kapur (Riverhead, £17)
Following Fish: Travels Around the Indian Coast
By Samanth Subramanian (Atlantic, £12.99)
For a certain type of Indian novelist writing in English, the idea of India is both blessing and scourge. A blessing in terms of readership, for since the country has come to be considered a rising economic power, interest has increased in novels that offer a picture of “the new India.” A scourge because, for many writers, a novel isn’t a lightly disguised informative tract. They may have other ambitions—to tell a story or offer a sense of place that has little to do with political geography.