The Age of Kali: Indian Travels & Encounters

The Age of Kali Indian Travels Encounters Alternate cover for this ISBN can be found hereWilliam Dalrymple has proved himself to be one of the most perceptive and enjoyable travel writers of the s His first book In Xanadu became an inst

  • Title: The Age of Kali: Indian Travels & Encounters
  • Author: William Dalrymple
  • ISBN: 9781864501728
  • Page: 485
  • Format: Paperback
  • The Age of Kali: Indian Travels & Encounters

    Alternate cover for this ISBN can be found hereWilliam Dalrymple has proved himself to be one of the most perceptive and enjoyable travel writers of the 1990s His first book, In Xanadu, became an instant backpacker s classic, winning a stream of literary prizes City of Djinns and From the Holy Mountain soon followed, to universal critical praise Yet it is India that DalAlternate cover for this ISBN can be found hereWilliam Dalrymple has proved himself to be one of the most perceptive and enjoyable travel writers of the 1990s His first book, In Xanadu, became an instant backpacker s classic, winning a stream of literary prizes City of Djinns and From the Holy Mountain soon followed, to universal critical praise Yet it is India that Dalrymple continues to return to in his travels, and his fourth book, The Age of Kali, is his most reflective book to date The result of 10 year s living and traveling throughout the Indian subcontinent, The Age of Kali emerges from Dalrymple s uneasy sense that the region is slipping into the most fearsome of all epochs in ancient Hindu cosmology the Kali Yug, the Age of Kali, the lowest possible throw, an epoch of strife, corruption, darkness, and disintegration The brilliance of this book lies in its refusal to reflect any cultural pessimism Dalrymple s love for the subcontinent, and his feel for its diverse cultural identity, comes across in every page, which makes its chronicles of political corruption, ethnic violence, and social disintegration all the poignant The scope of the book is particularly impressive, from the vivid opening chapters portraying the lawless caste violence of Bihar, to interviews with the drug barons on the North West Frontier, and Dalrymple s extraordinary encounter with the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka Some of the most fascinating sections of the book are Dalrymple s interviews with Imran Khan and Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan, which read like nonfiction companion pieces to Salman Rushdie s bitterly satirical Shame The Age of Kali is a dark, disturbing book that takes the pulse of a continent facing some tough questions Jerry Brotton,

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    One thought on “The Age of Kali: Indian Travels & Encounters

    1. Mihir

      I must say I had to reset my expectations while reading this book. I started reading what I thought would be an unprejudiced holistic third-person view of India, unaffected by patriotic sentiments, yet aided by a depth of understanding of the subcontinent and its culture. For William Dalrymple is eligible on both accounts- an Indophile Scotsman who has lived in India for many years to understand it's people, history and the cultural nuances. However, this book is not a balanced view and certainl [...]

    2. Nicholas Whyte

      nhwvejournal/861712ml[return][return]The Age of Kali, to be honest, is a bit disappointing. First off because of the form - it is a collection of pieces written for different journals at different times in the 1990s, and there is occasional repetition from one piece to the next, with no overall guiding structure. Second, because of this, the book lacks any synthesising introduction or conclusion, apart from a page at the very beginning explaining the concept of the Age of Kali, the Kali Yuga.[re [...]

    3. Arvind

      3.5/5 This was my second book by Dalrymple and I was quite impressed by his ability to find stories and narrate them interestingly with great perception and empathy in "Nine Lives". While the narration and perception are still good, some of the stories r a bit common-place. Still, a good read especially if u like Dalrymple:- It didnt matter to me that the book's stories r from the 90s. The best (and critical) Indian travelogue to me is Naipaul's "India - a million mutinies" set in 1989.

    4. Julia

      Journalism at its best! Very often, I find myself bored after the first fifty pages of a non-fiction book because lots of authors tend to be repetitive or their writing is just not good - this book is a sample of very different articles from various areas of India and Pakistan and Dalrymple is a brilliant writer who made tears spring up in my eyes when reading about the fate of widows abandoned by their families and the trains full of dead bodies arriving in Lahore train station after the partit [...]

    5. Nicholas

      What struck me about this book was that there was not a single positive remark on India or any of the other countries discussed. Even many of the personalities mentioned in the book were discussed from a cynical point of view. I understand that the book deals with the age of Kali which is a rather negative/ destructive period of history. But, Dalrymple's style of writing is such that he shows scant respect for his subjects. He reminds me of slumdog millionaire director Danny Boyle! There is an a [...]

    6. Anushree

      Detailed review coming up.Edit: Full reviewIndia is a country of such great culture and over centuries of invasions and fights for freedom, we as a country, have emerged as a powerful plethora of multitude of wonders. The Age of Kali is one such view of this country through Dalrymple's lens, as well as a short glimpse into the neighboring Pakistan. Dalrymple is witty, humorous and I might just add, extremely brave. Encapsulating the essence that is India in a few 400 pages in the manner in which [...]

    7. Abhishek

      It is depressing, but in a good way. The writing style is fantastic and showcases the amount of research done by Dalrymple. He is serious enough to go to places and interview people only some would dare to, and that’s why it presents an unbiased truth. He covers the whole subcontinent and interviews well known personalities like Imran Khan, Lalu Prasad Yadav, Benazir Bhutto, to name a few. The book paints a very sad but true picture and covers the last decade of 20th century India. It is a goo [...]

    8. Manu

      I love doing this - reading a commentary long after the age has passed. It's more than a decade and a half since the book was published and I've read four of the five books that the author has written since then. Both of these factors gave me quite a few perspectives on the book and the writing.I see this book divided into two on multiple counts - first in terms of geography, second in terms of narrative style, and third in terms of being true to the 'script' of the book. Almost two thirds of th [...]

    9. Viju

      Having read Nine Lives which I believed was a good travelogue with just the right amount of research and great narration, I picked up The Age of Kali. I certainly am not the first person to be fooled by the title - I read it as Kali, the Indian god, instead of Kali as in Kaliyuga. The first few chapters made me check the title cover a couple of times to see if it was indeed a book by Dalrymple, since the only feeling I got while I was reading this book was the hatred that I got towards the autho [...]

    10. Dayanand Prabhu

      Two very bad chapters in this book has compelled me to give this a 1 star1. In the chapter about Awadh Dalrymple goes on a nostalgia overdose and portrays Awadh as the best kingdom in the entire history of India. The fact is that Awadh was a disaster the rulers were opium addicts and made a mess of the empire which eventually paved the way for the British to overtake. Not even a single word about this in the entire essay, instead too much patronizing. Also Do you realize that the haveli and what [...]

    11. Andrew Trimboli

      I wish I'd read this book before I went to India. There's great insights into the inevitable mysticism, weirdness, horror and whatever else happens when you visit this country. Dalrymple's prose speaks for itself - no twee travelogue musings or haughty Western prosthelytising about the country he's lived in and out of for years. The critiques around the alleged negativity aren't correct. The book is about the age of Kali - destruction, corruption and general dismay. This is the India he's writi [...]

    12. Vibina Venugopal

      I read this book just after my secondary final exams some 10 years back, though William Darlymple is one of my favorite authors, the book did not impress me a it did back then.Age of Kalyug is a post independent India's modern face.The book is not a travelogue ,but it also includes his encounters with people from different walks and different circumstancesTravelling, he doesn't stop with India but extends his visit to adjoining countries like Pakistan and Sri Lanka with all its social unrestThe [...]

    13. Joel

      A collection of journalistic essays, written mostly in the 1990s, about the Indian subcontinent (primarily India, but there are also chapters about Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and the island of Reunion). There are interviews with prominent politicians, interviews with a good many people bemoaning changes that have occurred during their lifetimes (many of them upper-class people angry that they no longer enjoy the privileges they once did), and spotlights on some of the more severe issues facing modern [...]

    14. Satheesh Kumar

      Excellent reasearch, really Interesting Writing, but very biasedFirst of all, the title itself was a bit of a put off for me.A book describing how India is going to the dogs in the 21st century? Yeah rightBut I trusted the reputation of the author, and bought the book.It has been a mixed bag.The writing is excellent. No second thoughts on that.Dalrymple has made everything sound really interesting, and the book was pretty much unputdownable(except maybe a few chapters).Plus, the book is extremel [...]

    15. Varsha

      This was a fascinating read. I grew up in India in the 90s and will highly recommend it for all those who would like to have a snapshot of what it was like in those days. I found myself remembering all those news stories about Roop Kanwar, Bhanwari Devi and the Babri Masjid demolition. It was very poignant to reminisce and in a way relive those days. I also grew up in a small town in what was then Bihar and the first chilling chapter on Bihari politics makes a perfect case for finding the roots [...]

    16. Anders K.

      Dalrymple provides a fascinating glimpse into some of the problems and cultural mindsets that pervade the Indian subcontinent through a series of essays, divided up into one chapter per story. Although it is limited how much one can achieve with such difficult topic matter in just a few hundred pages, 'The Age of Kali' does a great job of providing both depth and variety which heightens the reader's awareness of local culture and history.In spite of how educational this book was (and I am thorou [...]

    17. Ayush Boruah

      This book takes the reader through the maze that South Asia is, from the hinterlands of Bihar and Rajasthan, fashionable Bombay, religious South India, to the forests of (then) LTTE occupied forests of northern Sri Lanka, with a brief sojourn in Reunion Island in between and finally ending in the political quagmire of Pakistan. The chapters evidently derive their content from Dalrymple's journals during his decade long stay in the subcontinent but have not been forcefully brought together under [...]

    18. Tim

      Entertaining at timesbut he sorta just picks out stories you'd expect to find in a newspaper anywhere don't know that it's the most balanced picture of Indiacuses on the worst of the bad stuff that happens here and that's it.

    19. Hardeep

      As an Indian, I do enjoy W Dalrymple's essays and writings on India and South Asia. Moreover, he is an Indophile, which makes it all the better :-) He has a very keen insight into the people, politics and religion of the area.

    20. Gideon Arulmani

      Writing a great book is not enough. Is that a touch of superiority we hear behind every one of his sentences?

    21. Manasa Manjunath

      Another one of 'those' books about India where the author talks about the deteriorated state of a once glorious India. With the once glorious India beings from the Raj. This collection of articles combined to become the book has Mr. Dalrymple travelling through the Indian subcontinent and writing about the India of the day. In every place he is shown around by someone. These people are either from the rich/elite section of the society or those he happens to stumble across to reinforce his idea o [...]

    22. Tim Martin

      _The Age of Kali_ by William Dalrymple is a fantastic and informative book on the Indian subcontinent, primarily abut India but with a section on Pakistan and essays as well on Sri Lank and the partially Indian island of Reunion. It is a result of ten years of travel by the author throughout the region, Dalrymple noting at the beginning of each essay in the book when he wrote it and in several cases following it up with a postscript (the earliest essay dates from the late 1980s and the book was [...]

    23. Ian Hodkinson

      I chanced upon a second hand copy of this at one of Lifeline's regular book fairs in Brisbane and, having just read 'Nine Lives' by the same author, picked it up at a bargain basement price. Dalrymple is a master at this kind of geographical history and his offerings on the sub-continent are eminently readable. Although now published 17 or more years ago and thus a bit 'dated' in terms of contemporary events, the book ofers a number of key insights into the growth and evolution of the sub-contin [...]

    24. Annewsa Ghosh

      As an avid fan of Dalrymple, I can assure an empathetic journey across the disintegration of the Indian society. Brave and bold about the rise of fascist religion, political corruption, social evils, and the like, Dalrymple gave us an unbiased picture of India and its neighbours set in social decline and shed light on issues that have been smouldering under the surface for over a decade but are now rising with the tide in an even fatal proportion. This book is a prophetic read as much as an anti [...]

    25. Neha Sharma

      Once again, William Dalrymple has wooed my literary side and has proved that he is, indeed, the best possible pair of eyes to see India through. I had an amazing time reading this book, feeling proud now and disappointed then, wondering how much more there is about my own country that I am totally oblivious of. It is not a satire, this book, unlike other books of the same category. It is an outcry of a lovesick heart, aching to show how much it has to take. I would recommend it to all those who [...]

    26. Surender Singh

      This book is a collection of essay, where every essay leaves you with a lot of open-ended questions to do a research on the topic as I come across a lot of unknown facts about India/Pakistan.This travelogue has the right amount of research and narration. For the initial chapters, I felt the author has seen a very unlikeable picture of India ( which has changed drastically in last 2 decades ) though may be true for 1980-90's India. if you withstand first few chapters this book is a very interesti [...]

    27. Vijayshree Menon

      This was my first Travelogue and I honestly went by the brand name of William Dalrymple. While he seems honest in some places. Some places weren't compelling enough. It is a good book for gaining a beginner perspective on travel writing.It doesn't give a complete picture of a state which I think is not expected but it takes us through certain aspects of the state which requires some attention. Some places I felt were a bit vague in substance. But overall good one time read

    28. Jennifer

      I read this while travelling in India. An interesting series of essays on the author's experience of living and travelling in India. His stories ring true for me - the book provided context and explanation for many of the things I was witnessing but not necessarily understanding. He captures the joy and generosity of the Indian people, but also the violence, corruption and unrest.

    29. Shema

      For anyone who wants to develop a perspective of India as a country, it is a comprehensive read. Mr. Dalrymple is like a thesis guide; giving just enough prompts for a curious mind to expand on. The inclusion of Sri Lanka and the obscure island and Pakistan augments the storytelling.

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