I picked this book because I was looking for something to tell me about the way life is changing on the Indian sub-continent. I was expecting a report about economic success and increasing materialism. What I got was much a deeper, darker, far more interesting but worrying political and economic report surrounding tales of everyday life.
It's rare good fortune to stumble over a book that tells you things you never knew you didn't know; Pankaj Mishra explores and explains details about life in the East which are truly shocking to someone like me who thinks she's reasonably well-informed about world affairs. This book has entirely changed my views on India. We hear and read in the West about India's marvellous economic revolution and how we all ought to be doing business with the forward thinking, intelligent people there. Who wants to know about all the other people who aren't feeling the benefit, who are becoming poorer, deprived of even the basics for a bearable life, living in fear of violence?
This is a book about individuals' lives, people that Mishra helps us to understand and like or dislike, in whom we become fascinated. Educated people who can't even dream of finding a job, corrupt politicians and their dedicated counterparts, aspiring film stars, bereaved families. It's a book about people and their backgrounds, the political and economic backdrops against which their difficult lives are played out. I wonder what has happened to them?
I've been urging people to read this book, especially people who do business with India. This is not an easy nor a comfortable read, but it is a rewarding one.