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The Temple-goers [Paperback]

Aatish Taseer
2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)

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Book Description

4 Mar 2010


A controversial No.1 bestseller in India, The Temple-goers introduces us to a sensational new story-telling talent - and a shocking new side of Indian society. It tells the story of two young men from very different sides of the tracks: one cast adrift in a world of fashion parties, media moguls and designer labels, the other who reveals to him the city's hidden and squalid underbelly. But when a body is found floating in the canal and one of them is accused of the murder, some deeply unsettling truths begin to emerge, exposing their friendship and the dark and troubled heart of the city in which they live...

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Viking (4 Mar 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670918504
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670918508
  • Product Dimensions: 23 x 15.2 x 2.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,085,704 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


A gripping tangle of politics, murder, bribery and betrayal (Observer)

A young writer to watch (V. S. Naipaul)

Naipaul's praise is rare enough to be notable; and Taseer lives up to it. Among the sharpest and best-written fictions about contemporary India (Independent)

A coolly accomplished, pulsating account of modern-day Delhi (Guardian)

Scathingly comic, disquieting, ironical. Vicious fun (Spectator)

Part thriller, part investigation of male friendship, part exploration of the tension between traditional values and modern liberalism in Indian society. Assured, engaging, highly readable (Sunday Times)

A subtle, cleverly observed comedy of manners that turns into an altogether edgier and more sinister narrative (Literary Review)

A brooding tale . . . desire, greed and murder all feature (Daily Mail)

About the Author

Aatish Taseer was born in Delhi in 1980. He has worked as reporter for Time Magazine and has written for the Sunday Times, Prospect and India Today. He has also written a travel memoir, Stranger to History: a Son's Journey through Islamic Lands (2009) and a highly acclaimed translation Manto: Selected Stories (2008). He lives in Delhi and London.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not Quite What It Wanted To Be 15 Mar 2010
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Producing a work which captures the nature of being Indian in modern India seems to be fascinating writers there at this present time. Be it through the non-fiction reportage style of Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found or the fiction of the likes of The White Tiger the theme looks set to fascinate Indian writers for some years to come. Astish Taseer's novel tries to address the issue and uses the outsider's return to do so.

Taseer is billed as something of a rebel by the publishers here yet his book never quite hits these heights. He addresses issues such as the rejection of arranged marriage, homosexuality, and the independent single and educated women but in a way which sees them as a checklist. The book's key themes struggle with the issue of modern India's headlong clash with its history and how it can reconcile the two - although it really does take a while to work out that this is what the book is actually about - and so for all the suggested contemporaray edge the book ploughs a somewhat conservative furrow. It's also a story about an unlikely friendship with a curious sexual frisson to it which the writer seems somewhat afraid to fully explore.

Yet the biggest issue is that the idea of the old and the new Indias is wrapped in something oblique, it's as if Taser doesn't want to express an opinion one way or another. I saw flashes of an India I recognised - it's a contradictory place both illogical and wondrful at the same time and filled with a people who absolutely adore their nation - Taser's book never quite gets the tone right in a way that Suketu Metha's "Maximum City" does.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Hyped up but fails to deliver 19 April 2010
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
A writer returns to India to resume his relationship with his girlfriend and start another, less easily defined relationship, with his personal trainer. And that's about it. Despite attempts at other wordliness - the main protagonist sharing the author's name, a setting that is strange and unknown to many readers, and themes that include social inequality and the issues around mixed heritage - this novel is slow, dull and lacks empathy. Everyone knows everyone, no-one seems to like anyone, and no-one seems to do much. I was not engaged by any of the characters, but found them all annoying in their own shallow, self-absorbed ways. Maybe I just don't get it. However, I normally enjoy contemporay foreign writing as a way to absorb other cultures whilst enjoying a well-written story. The Temple-Goers just didn't do this for me.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Self-indulgent and over-hyped 16 April 2010
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Yet another example of a mundane book given the 'permissible hyperbole' treatment so it sounds like the best thing since the invention of paper. The writing is pretty average with an over-emphasis on boring details describing everyday things we are all familiar with. The characters are largely uninvolving and unexciting, the plot hard to discern (if there is one: I certainly couldn't find it), and any sense of dynamic is missing. It seems the main character could, in fact, be the author, and the book very much reads like someone writing about his life with the addition of a fictional edge. If this is the case, then unfortunately for the reader it is a very boring life, and the added fictional element does not liven it up by any significant degree. Occasionally there is a glimmer of something interesting, either by way of character or an event, or an example of new and old India grinding together, such as with the caste system, but it barely disturbs the soporific tempo of this disappointing novel.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The modern East meets Westernised 8 April 2010
By David J. Kelly VINE VOICE
At first I had a bit of difficulty working out whether this was a novel or not, the last book I read by Taseer was a travelogue exploring the Islamic world of his paternal heritage. This book is very much about Taseer's maternal inheritance; he is the product of a Pakistani father and an Indian Hindu mother who brought him up, mostly among her extended family in Delhi. So here he is, his first language is English, he has been educated abroad, he seems to feel neither Hindu nor Muslim but he knows he is Indian and yet does not feel comfortable in his Indianess. It turns out that this is a novel but written in the first person with the author as the narrator.

In the book Aatish returns to Delhi to finish off his novel and moves in with his girlfriend from London. He starts going to the gym and meets and bonds with an ambitious, high caste but poor trainer called Aakash. Aakash leads the privileged westernised Aatish through the contradictions and conflicts between modern and old India where consumerism and western liberalism dominate the media and the affluent classes but where not too far under the surface are the sectarian and caste conflicts and superstition and honour systems inherited from pre colonial India. Aakash is remaking himself into a modern Indian but never loses sight of his heritage whereas Aatish is a modern Indian who has little contact with his. The book ends and begins with a sensationalised murder and the very Indian way that it pans out.

I really enjoyed this book, it paints a picture of a society that is evolving rapidly and finding its own identity. The traditional and the modern mix, as they must. The British feature in the novel but as a distant memory, almost like the British look back at the Romans. The characters enjoy drink and sex outside of marriage but go to temple and revere their ancient traditions but they all look forward, even the character who teaches Aatish Urdu so he can read his great grandfather's poems.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars The Flaws of Modernity
The son of a Sikh journalist from New Delhi and Salmaan Taseer, Governor of Pakistan's Punjab province, who was assassinated by Islamists in 2011, Aatish Taseer has an un-nerving... Read more
Published 24 months ago by Ben Mirza
2.0 out of 5 stars Lacks direction.
The Temple Goers describes the awkward and uneasy realtionship between the main protagonist Aatish and his personal trainer Aakash. Read more
Published on 24 Nov 2011 by Doh
2.0 out of 5 stars This book was a big disappointment.
Despite the poor story line I kept on reading till the end stupidly thinking it was building up to something, but it never did. Read more
Published on 29 May 2011 by Mrs Fields
1.0 out of 5 stars Dull
I rarely give up on books, but 80 pages in I have to force myself to pick this up, and I can't be bothered to exert the effort anymore. Read more
Published on 20 Jan 2011 by Lendrick
2.0 out of 5 stars Self-indulgent
I have thoroughly enjoyed Taseer's previous writings and having visited India, such books as The White Tiger and Maximum City have gave me a hunger to consume more on this diverse... Read more
Published on 23 Sep 2010 by A. Betts
3.0 out of 5 stars Started off well then faded a bit
Taseer's book is the story of murder played out against the back drop of modern privileged Indian life. Read more
Published on 10 May 2010 by A. Macfarlane
2.0 out of 5 stars neither engaging nor particularly interesting
I had high hopes for The Temple Goers. The promise of murder and corruption are always a good start; alongside this it threatened an exposé of the heart of new India's... Read more
Published on 30 April 2010 by Mr. J W
5.0 out of 5 stars Nostalgic for the future
Aatish's return to Delhi describes a new and weird awakening in him, an outsider in his own city, he goes looking for trouble which he finds in the form of his personal trainer... Read more
Published on 16 April 2010 by Dickie Greenleaf
4.0 out of 5 stars Perceptive and thoughtful but action-packed
A fascinating novel that looks at the nature of modern India - how it has changed, and how it is continuing to change - through the lens of a young man returning to India after... Read more
Published on 15 April 2010 by Gabrielle O
4.0 out of 5 stars Oddly compelling
This was unlike any other book I have read. It manages to combine the everyday with the surreal and somehow it just works. Read more
Published on 13 April 2010 by Laura Smith
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