The Beautiful and the Damned: A Portrait of the New India
The Beautiful and the Damned: A Portrait of the New India
The Beautiful and the Damned: A Portrait of the New India
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Price: $4.99 FREE for Members
Type: eBook
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Page Count: 272
Format: epub
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0865478627
ISBN-13: 9780865478626
User Rating: 4.3333 out of 5 Stars! (3 Votes)

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The New York Times

The Beautiful and the Damned he dives head-first into the places where change is happening, temporarily inhabiting these evolving, often confusing sub-worlds, talking to those benefiting from (and victimized by) said changes, and explaining in prose both highly personal and sociologically insightful how India’s people and culture are coping . . . Much like fellow participatory journalist George Orwell . . . Deb is a distinctly sympathetic firsthand observer of the contradictions between rich and poor . . . Anyone wanting to understand contemporary India’s glaring contradictions, its juxtapositions of glittering boomtowns with horrific slums, should read Deb’s wonderfully researched and elegantly written account.” —Chuck Leddy, Minneapolis Star Tribune

The Daily

The Beautiful and the Damned digs beneath the self-congratulatory stories India tell itself—all the better to expose the stories it seeks to repress.” —Parul Sehgal, Bookforum

The Sunday Times

The Guardian

Literary Review

The Times (London)

“Siddhartha Deb is one of the most distinctive writers to have emerged from South Asia in the last two decades.” PANKAJ MISHRA, author of The Romantics Siddhartha Deb, who teaches creative writing at the New School, is the author of two novels: The Point of Return, which was a 2003 New York Times Notable Book of the Year, and An Outline of the Republic. His reviews and journalism have appeared in The Boston Globe, The Guardian, Harper’s Magazine, The Nation, New Statesman, n+1, and The Times Literary Supplement.

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9780865478626
| 3 out of 5 Stars!


The book is about the India that is rapidly changing and the Indians that examplify the changing India. The author has picked great characters that tell the story: call center workers, social activists, tycoons, etc. The themes are hope, aspiration, dislocation, and cynicism. It is a wonderful idea for a book that certainly ought to be of interest to anyone who wants to know about the current state of a vast and complex country (and a dynamic economy)---not as a recitation of statistical facts but as in-depth portraits of people on the ground. However, the writing style is novelistic rather than journalistic. There are many asides and reflection; and these diversions are somewhat repetitive and, after a while, self-evident and even slightly trite. It seems that the author is just a bit too ready to impose his voice rather than artfully letting his subjects tell his own strories, which would have been evocative and engaging even if treated with a light touch. Still a book worth the time; but not a sparkling read because of its pretension to be literature.

| 5 out of 5 Stars!


This is a remarkable book. It takes the reader through five narratives of contemporary India, painting a vivid portrait of a country in transition. I'm really impressed with the clarity with which Deb accomplishes this and would rate this book as far more informative (and written in much better prose) than any other book about the ongoing socioeconomic transformation in India. It's not nostalgic, it doesn't romanticize the country or pay tribute to any specific cities: it focuses on the people (an impressive variety of them), not the places or the practices.

(Perhaps this was not the author's intent, but if you're planning to do business in India, or have been assigned to travel there on work, read the first two essays, they give you a good idea of the rich tapestry of Indian aspirations. While I grew up in India, I have lived in the United states for over 15 years, and although I travel to India every couple of months for work, it is hard to see the range of what this book tells you even if you are a frequent visitor.)

The nod to F. Scott Fitzgerald goes beyond his choice of title: the first narrative draws explicit parallels between Arindam Chaudhari and Gatsby, the nouveau rich outsider with a questionable academic past. But Deb is not simply more readable than Fitzgerald, he also rises to the challenge of describing a far more complex society, and one that is going through fairly radical change. It is hard to peg this book as being of a specific "type". There's a mix of relevant history and astute social observation, and a good range of context. Perhaps it is a very readable ethnography, one that anyone interested in India should read. I couldn't put it down once I started it. Then I read it again.

postscript: I discovered earlier this week while in India that the version being sold there does not contain the first chapter "The Great Gatsby", which has been removed following a civil case filed by Chaudhuri's IIPM. (It was published in the magazine "Caravan" back in February 2011.

| 5 out of 5 Stars!


This book really got to me. I'm American, but I have traveled to India many times over the past 12 years and have been actually living in Delhi for the past two years.

This book made me realize I don't do a lot of critical thinking about what is right under the surface of my day to day experiences. I assume that India's headlong rush forward is a good thing which everyone is happy to see coming. People happy to leave their dusty villages with no future to come to Delhi and get their mobile phones and scooters. The author does a fabulous job laying out the real underpinnings of this game.

I thought the book was extremely well written and I was carried along without effort. I acknowledge the other reviewer who suggests some wrap up might be in order - but on the other hand maybe the author had the ending consciously in mind. What does this all mean? Is this new India good or bad? If you could change something about it what would it be? Is India moving to a better or worse place? Will this all end well or poorly?

This book is most easily read by people with some awareness of or interest in India.....but in the end it is just a great book. I would love to meet the author if he is ever in Delhi.

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