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The Great Indian Novel [Paperback]

Shashi Tharoor
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

26 July 1990
A fictionalized account of Indian history over the past 100 years. It aims to remain true to the original events, including characters such as Gandhi and Mountbatten but it also utilizes characters, incidents and issues from the Indian epic, the Mahabharata.

Product details

  • Paperback: 423 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; New edition edition (26 July 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140120491
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140120493
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 12.8 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 472,948 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning, brilliant novel 11 Jun 2004
By A Customer
A truly remarkable novel. Beautifully written, with phrases and pages one would read, re-read and re-read again. And a brilliant concept, weaving a fictionalised account of 20th centruy India into the tapestry of a great Indian masterpiece. This is fantastic: undoubtedly the greatest novel I have ever had the pleasure of reading. It deserves to be far, far better known.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent. 26 Jun 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Excellent description and service. I did find a couple of bits and pieces stashed away in the pages (flight boarding cards for example) but these actually added to the experience!
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Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  25 reviews
22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Great Stories 22 Jan 2003
By Richard Wells - Published on Amazon.com
Whether it's the "Iliad," exploring the nature of the warrior, or the "Mahabarata"," explaining politics, the great stories are always with us and provide illumination to our seemingly modern lives. With "The Great Indian Novel," Shashi Tharoor shows us that "everything old is new again." "The Great Indian Novel," is a re-interpretation of the Mahabarata framed in India's struggle for independence, and the political aftermath of colonization. The famous make their appearances under altered names, and Mr. Tharoor manages to make the Mahabarata current while making modern Indian politics somewhat understandable. The book is also very funny. I don't know if this is a book for the casual reader, but if you're interested in India I think you'll find it quite fascinating.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Now I want to read the Mahahbarata 1 Jun 2004
By Ronald Pompeo - Published on Amazon.com
Being interested in India and having traveled there twice recently, I stalked up on all sorts of books dealing with the country. This is one of them. I started this one and immediately kept reading with great interest, as his story-line unfolded flawlessly.
I feel ashamed to admit it, but I am not familiar with Indian mythology and specifically with the Mahabharata, so I cannot comment as others did on how well he melded that epic tale with the modern, historical figures. But even without knowing how that one aspect fell into play within the whole story, I thought the work was absolutely brilliant. His satire on characters from recent Indian history is hysterical. If you have any knowledge about who Ghandi or Indira were, you will obviously spot WHO he is talking about, even though the real names are never used.
Finally, Tharoor's grasp and usage of English is awsome. I enjoyed the way he delivers passages full of sentiment and emotion, yet with witty, tongue-in-check narration. Plus, he wrote many, many inspiring passages that were so aptly phrased--simply the thoughts of a geneous--that I was inspired to highlight them with a neon pen. Truly excellent ideas put on paper!
The reason I didn't give it 5 stars was because I felt it ended rather abruptly or hurried, and it needed, in my opinion, a little more historical/politcal plot to finally bring it all together without a sense of being rushed at the end. (Maybe it's only me who feels this way.)
So, even if you don't know the Mahabharata or much of Indian history/politics, this book will keep your interest and whet your appetite to read even more on the fascinating country.
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nothing new under the sun. 26 Dec 2001
By Patrick Carroll - Published on Amazon.com
For me, the book works in a number of ways:
1. Recasting the Mahabharata into modern India.
Two bits struck me: the story of Karna, the driver's son, and Drona teaching the Panduva. The first because of the way personal brilliance can be discounted on the basis of family tree; the second for the retelling of aiming at the crow and Drona's promise to Arjuna.
2. The names.
Apart from the characters from the Mahabharata, there's also whole new cast of characters who reflect the modern world. Two names stand out in my mind. "Gaga Shah" is the story's name for the Aga Kahn. Given the antics of the various Aga Kahns, "Crazy Emperor" is not a bad characterization. Then there's Zinna as Karna - "The Hacker Off" - hacking off Pakistan - "Karnistan" - for himself.
3. Showing the relevance of myth.
Personally, I have a tendency to discount the mythos in favor of the logos, but mythos comes first, and recurs. Casting the Mahabharata onto modern history is a great way to show there's nothing fundamentally new under the sun.
This book made for a great over-Christmas, by-the-fire-with-an-adult-beverage read.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book rules !! 16 Feb 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
I was totally floored by this book. I love the irreverence which pervades this book. I was so sick and tired of reading narrations of the Mahabharat which amounted to no more than the writer's obeisance to the half-mythical demigods who are omnipresent in Indian culture. Having read Rajaji's Mahabharata which is almost didactic in its flow, it was simply refreshing to read this treatment which is so much more than narration; it was also filled with brilliant analyses that were highly insightful and laugh-out-loud funny. The marriage of this epic with the Indian freedom struggle and its pointed comparisons of mythological characters with our erstwhile leaders was on the money. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants not to simply know the story of the Mahabharat, but to understand what it means to us as Indians, what India stands for to non-Indians, and how it is truly a timeless classic which bears relevance anywhere in the world.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Humor, History and superb english 19 Nov 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
This book is one of the very best I have read in recent times. The book marries Indian mythology with the freedom struggle and recent polity. Filled with humor and sarcasm, the author tells both stories very successfully and also chips in with his subtle observations (especially about independence and after). And to top it all the English is very good. If you don't know much about Indian history, and appreciate good english, you should read it.
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