Bob Harris & Matt Flannery
Tue., June 4
India Becoming: A Portrait of Life in Modern India (Paperback)
A New Republic Editors' and Writers' Pick 2012 A New Yorker Contributors' Pick 2012
A Newsweek "Must Read on Modern India"
For people who savored Katherine Boo’s Behind the Beautiful Forevers.”Evan Osnos, newyorker.com
A portrait of the incredible change and economic development of modern India, and of social and national transformation there told through individual lives
Raised in India, and educated in the U.S., Akash Kapur returned to India in 2003 to raise a family. What he found was an ancient country in transition. In search of the life that he and his wife want to lead, he meets an array of Indians who teach him much about the realities of this changed country: an old landowner sees his rural village destroyed by real estate developments, and crime and corruption breaking down the feudal authority; a 21-year-old single woman and a 35-year-old divorcee exploring the new cultural allowances for women; and a young gay man coming to terms with his sexual identity something never allowed him a generation ago.
As Akash and his wife struggle to find the right balance between growth and modernity and the simplicity and purity they had known from the Indian countryside a decade ago, they ultimately find a country that has begun to dream.” But also one that may be moving away too quickly from the valuable ways in which it is different.
About the Author
Akash Kapur is the former writer of the “Letter from India” column for the International Herald Tribune, which has been picked up in the Week in Review section of The New York Times on occasion. He has also written for The Atlantic, The Economist, The New Yorker, and The New York Times Book Review. He holds a BA in Social Anthropology from Harvard University, and a doctorate in Law from Oxford University, which he attended as a Rhodes Scholar. He consults on development and media law for a number of organizations, including the United Nations. He lives outside Pondicherry in Southern India.
Praise for India Becoming: A Portrait of Life in Modern India…
“This takes, wisely, a humble approach: instead of trying to encapsulate the entirety of India’s changes, it follows a few lives along the idiosyncratic ways they develop. For people who savored Katherine Boo’s Behind the Beautiful Forevers.”—Evan Osnos, newyorker.com
"[A] lucid, balanced new book . . . Kapur is determinedly fair-minded, neither an apologist nor a scold, and he is a wonderfully empathetic listener.”—The New York Times Book Review
“Kapur’s strength is in letting his characters display the ambiguity that many feel about the ongoing change. … Kapur offers a corrective to a simplistic “new, happy narrative” of a rising India.”—The Economist
“There are many virtues of Akash Kapur’s beautifully sketched portrait of modern India….The book inhabits parts of India we do not explore often enough, the India of the south and of the transforming countryside. Mostly, it takes us into the minds and hearts of Indians seeking to adapt to a society changing at disconcerting speed…. The book reads like a novel…Kapur’s skill is to get people talking and to weave their stories into a necessarily messy debate about India’s future.”—The Financial Times
"Impressively lucid and searching . . . In his clarity, sympathy and impeccably sculpted prose, Kapur often summons the spirit of V.S. Naipaul." —Pico Iyer, Time
“Kapur himself, with one leg in the East and one in the West, is an excellent ambassador to explain the dynamic of change in India, what the nation is becoming. Any reader who would like to understand the country better would do well to give him a read.”—Daily Beast
"Kapur has a fluency that outsiders—even those of us with a genetic tie—lack”—The New Republic
"This is a remarkably absorbing account of an India in transition - full of challenges and contradictions, but also of expectations, hope, and ultimately optimism."-Amartya Sen
"A wonderful writer: a courageously clear-eyed observer, an astute listener, a masterful portraitist, and a gripping storyteller. Kapur's voice is as sure and as intimate as his subject is chaotic and immense, and he proves himself the perfect guide to the enthralling promise and the terrifying menace of a society in the throes of colossal, epochal, all-encompassing change."-Philip Gourevitch, author of We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Your Families
"Marvelous . . . Kapur shows how the old rural cycle of the south Indian village depicted and romanticized by R. K. Narayan is fracturing and breaking apart to reveal a very new, more unstable world where the old certainties are disappearing and everything is up for grabs. Sharp-eyed, insightful, skillfully sketched and beautifully written, India Becoming is the remarkable debut of a distinctive new talent."-William Dalrymple, author of Nine Lives: In Search of the Sacred in Modern India
"Akash Kapur lives in and writes out of an India that few writers venture into. Curious, suspicious of received wisdom, and intellectually resourceful, [Kapur is] one of the most reliable observers of the New India."-Pankaj Mishra, author of Temptations of the West: How to Be Modern in India, Pakistan, Tibet, and Beyond
"Through a series of deft character sketches, Akash Kapur captures the contradictions of life in modern India-between city and country, technology and aesthetics, development and the environment, greed and selflessness, individual fulfillment and community obligation. His writing is fresh and vivid; his perspective empathetic and appealingly non-judgmental."-Ramachandra Guha, author of India after Gandhi
"Beautifully written . . . Akash Kapur celebrates the gains and mourns the losses, conveying a complex story through the ups and downs of the lives of some fascinating individual women and men."-Kwame Anthony Appiah, author of Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers
"India today is in the midst of profound change and Akash Kapur captures the impact of that change on the lives of ordinary Indians with a narrative that avoids all clichés, platitudes, and simplifications."-Gurcharan Das, author of India Unbound
“A fascinating look at the transformation of India, with broader lessons on the upside and downside of progress.”—Booklist (starred)
“[A] Lively, anecdotal look at the people who have been vastly changed by the entrepreneurial explosion in India. . . . An honest, conflicted glimpse of a country.”—Kirkus