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Almost Home
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"In essays that bespeak a thoroughly cosmopolitan sensibility, Githa Hariharan not only takes us on illuminating tours through cities rich in history, but gives a voice to urban people from all over the world--Kashmir, Palestine, Delhi--trying to live with basic human dignity under circumstances of dire repression or crushing poverty." --JM Coetzee What does a medieval city in South India have in common with Washington, D.C.? How do people in Kashmir envision the freedom they long for? To whom does Delhi, city of grand monuments and hidden slums, actually belong? And what makes a city, or any place, home? In ten intricately wrought essays, renowned author Githa Hariharan takes readers on an eye-opening journey across time and place, exploring the history, landscape, and people that have shaped the world's most fascinating and fraught cities. Inspired by Italo Calvino's playful and powerful writing about journeys and cities, Harihan combines memory, cultural criticism, and history to sculpt fascinating, layered stories about the places around the world--from Delhi, Mumbai, and Kashmir to Palestine, Algeria, and eleventh-century Cordoba, from Tokyo to New York and Washington. In narrating the lives of these places' vanquished and marginalized, she plumbs the depths of colonization and nation-building, poverty and war, the struggle for human rights, and the day-to-day business of survival. Almost Home: Finding a Place in the World from Kashmir to New York presents a new kind of travel writing that is intellectually adventurous but never detached, couched in personal experience but deeply engaged in the world, inviting the reader to make surprising connections with her own sense of home.
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About the Author

Born in Coimbatore, India, Githa Hariharan grew up in Bombay and Manila. She was educated in those two cities and later in the United States. She has worked as a staff writer for WNET-Channel 13 in New York, an editor for Orient Longman, a freelance professional editor for a range of academic institutions and foundations, and visiting professor at a number of international universities. Her first novel, The Thousand Faces of Night (1992) won the Commonwealth Writers' Prize for best first book in 1993. Her other novels include The Ghosts of Vasu Master (1994), When Dreams Travel (1999), In Times of Siege (2003), and Fugitive Histories (2009). She has also published a highly acclaimed short story collection, The Art of Dying, and a book of stories for children, The Winning Team. Her essays and fiction have also been included in anthologies such as Salman Rushdie's Mirrorwork: 50 Years of Indian Writing 1947-1997. She lives in New Delhi.

Reviews

In essays that bespeak a thoroughly cosmopolitan sensibility, Githa Hariharan not only takes us on illuminating tours through cities rich in history, but gives a voice to urban people from all over the world Kashmir, Palestine, Delhi trying to live with basic human dignity under circumstances of dire repression or crushing poverty. JM Coetzee" Hariharan is a complete cultural encyclopedia. Her observations are sharp as she reveals power dynamics with subtlety. Hariharan s stories should be required reading. Read it in order to decode the daily news. Read it just before traveling to the Far or Middle East, or read it because the last five books you read were written by white American men. To ignore the farmers and seamstresses of Hariharan s essays is to discard the responsibility and interconnectedness of living in a globalized world. Each essay will add depth to your understanding of the complicated, nuanced relationship between daily life and history, no matter what city or country you call home. Chicago Review of Books" We are in capable hands with Githa Hariharan . To read this book is to venture on a rigorous journey around the globe and through pockets of time. As a fellow travel writer and having also lived a peripatetic life that crosses continents and hemispheres, this is the best travel book I have ever read . Hariharan s anthropological curiosity, the sign of a true traveler s mind, illuminates the tales with a colorful confetti of elements from philosophy and art to literature and history. The results remind me of the best parts of Graham Greene s oeuvre and Italo Calvino s "Invisible Cities" . People and places come alive in this book, not through dusty encyclopedic research, but by Hariharan s deft incorporation of historical fiction into the essayistic and travelogue elements of her narrative . World travelers and armchair travelers alike will find themselves happily lost and found in this book. It s worth repeatedly returning to. New Pages" Hariharan...employs abundant creative imagination as she conjures the centuries past that have shaped the present in which she finds herself. ["Almost Home"] seems to map new territory of its own. "Kirkus Reviews"" ["Almost Home" is] a treat for globetrotters who like to get under the skin of complex places. Hariharan travels through India, Palestine, Algeria, Tokyo, Spain and, of course, New York, using memory, cultural criticism and history to give voice to urban people fighting for their dreams and dignity. Bedford and Bowery" A beautifully crafted memoir about finding one's place in a global and ever-changing world. Her memoir "Almost Hom"e follows her many worldly travels and experiences, deepened by historical asides and cultural explanations. In ten captivating essays, Hariharan explores her life as a global citizen, defined equally by her roots as much as her current address, and what it means to find and embrace her own place in an ancient yet transient world. GoNOMAD" A fascinating book that transcends conventional genre divisions and combines several elements: of memoir, travelogue, history, philosophy and fiction. What in a journalist s hands might just have been reportage turns in the hands of this creative writer into a well-conceived, layered narrative, a work of excellent prose. "Frontline India"" "A fascinating book that transcends conventional genre divisions and combines several elements: of memoir, travelogue, history, philosophy and fiction. What in a journalist's hands might just have been reportage turns in the hands of this creative writer into a well-conceived, layered narrative, a work of excellent prose." --Frontline India "A beautifully crafted memoir about finding one's place in a global and ever-changing world.... Her memoir Almost Home follows her many worldly travels and experiences, deepened by historical asides and cultural explanations. In ten captivating essays, Hariharan explores her life as a global citizen, defined equally by her roots as much as her current address, and what it means to find and embrace her own place in an ancient yet transient world." --GoNOMAD "[Almost Home is] a treat for globetrotters who like to get under the skin of complex places. Hariharan travels through India, Palestine, Algeria, Tokyo, Spain and, of course, New York, using memory, cultural criticism and history to give voice to urban people fighting for their dreams and dignity." --Bedford and Bowery "Hariharan...employs abundant creative imagination as she conjures the centuries past that have shaped the present in which she finds herself. ... [Almost Home] seems to map new territory of its own." --Kirkus Reviews "We are in capable hands with Githa Hariharan.... To read this book is to venture on a rigorous journey around the globe and through pockets of time. As a fellow travel writer and having also lived a peripatetic life that crosses continents and hemispheres, this is the best travel book I have ever read.... Hariharan's anthropological curiosity, the sign of a true traveler's mind, illuminates the tales with a colorful confetti of elements from philosophy and art to literature and history. The results remind me of the best parts of Graham Greene's oeuvre and Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities.... People and places come alive in this book, not through dusty encyclopedic research, but by Hariharan's deft incorporation of historical fiction into the essayistic and travelogue elements of her narrative.... World travelers and armchair travelers alike will find themselves happily lost and found in this book. It's worth repeatedly returning to." --New Pages "Hariharan is a complete cultural encyclopedia.... Her observations are sharp as she reveals power dynamics with subtlety.... Hariharan's stories should be required reading.... Read it in order to decode the daily news. Read it just before traveling to the Far or Middle East, or read it because the last five books you read were written by white American men. To ignore the farmers and seamstresses of Hariharan's essays is to discard the responsibility and interconnectedness of living in a globalized world. Each essay will add depth to your understanding of the complicated, nuanced relationship between daily life and history, no matter what city or country you call home." --Chicago Review of Books "In essays that bespeak a thoroughly cosmopolitan sensibility, Githa Hariharan not only takes us on illuminating tours through cities rich in history, but gives a voice to urban people from all over the world--Kashmir, Palestine, Delhi--trying to live with basic human dignity under circumstances of dire repression or crushing poverty." --JM Coetzee

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