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Nine Lives


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Dalrymple's name is synonymous with the very best writing on India. His books are all bestsellers that have astounded the critics and won numerous awards An exciting new direction that will appeal beyond Dalrymple's usual market Dalrymple writes regularly for the national papers and is an extremely high-profile travel writer and historian This has the stripped-down simplicity of Patrick Leigh Fermor and the deep generational understanding of Jhumpa Lahiri

About the Author

William Dalrymple was born in Scotland and brought up on the shores of the Firth of Forth. He wrote the highly acclaimed bestseller In Xanadu when he was twenty-two. City of Djinns won the Thomas Cook Travel Book Award and the Sunday Times Young British Writer of the Year Award. The Age of Kali won the French Prix D'Astrolabe and White Mughals won the Wolfson Prize for History 2003 and the Scottish Book of the Year Prize. His most recent book, The Last Mughal, was longlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize and won the Duff Cooper Memorial Prize. Hi lives with his wife and three children on a farm outside Dehli.


'Nine Lives takes the charm and natural verve of City of Djinns, marries it to the intellectual and spiritual engagement of From the Holy Mountain, and brings it off with all the narrative skill developed in his history books, combined with his ever more profound understanding of India.' Maya Jasanoff, author of Edge of Empire Praise for White Mughals: 'No brief review can do justice to its manifold excellence ... This is quite simply a stunning achievement' - Frank McLynn, Independent on Sunday 'William Dalrymple is that rarity: a scholar of history who can really write' - Salman Rushdie 'A gorgeous, spellbinding and important book... A tapestry of magnificent set pieces and a moving romance' - Miranda Seymour, Sunday Times

For the last 20 years, Scotsman Dalrymple (The Last Mughals) has made the Indian subcontinent his bailiwick. In his introduction here, he describes Nine Lives as "a collection of non-fiction short stories," and he does portray the "pluralist religious and philosophic folk traditions" found in India in a way that is compelling and accessible to all readers. His subjects here are all people living on the margins: we meet a wandering Jain nun, a Tantric housewife whose abode is the cremation ground, a Sufi holy woman, a refugee from two countries, a blind Baul minstrel, and a Rajasthani bard who can recite from memory an epic of 626 pages, to name only a few. Dalrymple shows us the "lived experience" of the practitioners of these different religious paths and how their worlds have been impacted in a rapidly changing India. VERDICT More accessible but less scholarly than Wendy Doniger's The Hindus, Dalrymple's book is highly recommended for all collections. Readers will sense the power of faith underlying the divergent religious paths, with stories that are enthralling and will keep them up late reading.-Ravi Shenoy, Naperville P.L., IL Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.

Historian-travel writer Dalrymple (The Last Mughal) knows his Asian subcontinent, having moved to New Delhi in 1989. The engine of Indian economic development is bringing rapid change, and Dalrymple spotlights changes and constancies brought about in India's dizzyingly diverse religious practices. The titular nine lives are those of a variety of religious adherents: a Jain nun, a sacred dancer, a Sufi mystic, a Tantric practitioner, among others. His subjects, for the most part, do their own show-and-tell in explaining their religious paths, which differ but share the passionate devotion (bhakti) that characterizes popular religion in India. Dalrymple has a good eye, a better ear, and the humility to get out of the way of his subjects. It helps to know a bit about the subject coming in, as it saves endless flipping to a very helpful appended glossary. The author also notes in his introduction he has made a special effort to avoid exoticizing "mystic India," yet he has picked some extremes to exemplify different kinds of religious beliefs and practices. Still, those are minor quibbles about this ambitious and affectionate book that respects popular religion. (June) Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.

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