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Twilight in Delhi (New Directions Paperbook)
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 28 June 2009
This evocative re-released classic novel should be read by anyone brought up on the British version of Indian colonial history. Ostensibly a story of Muslim family in Delhi at the turn of the 20th century and the marriage of the son Asghar, its more enduring theme is the inhabitants resentment of their British rulers even 50 years after the 1857 `Mutiny'.

Set against the political backdrop of George V's coronation durbar in 1911, the general decay of Old Delhi after the decline of the Moghul courts - even the son of the last Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah is reduced to begging on the streets - and the marginalizing effect on Old Delhi's Muslim population is vividly portrayed. The sense of futility at their predicament and the general resentment of the British is palpable and more revealing than any historical account can ever be. From this resentment grows the independence movement that finally ejects the British in 1948.

While this is not a literary work of art, in just 200 pages we get a picture of life in Delhi as the British prepare to shift their capital from Calcutta. But its other theme is the transient nature of Empire rule whether by the Moghuls or the British. The British barely lasted 40 years beyond 1911, but the beginnings of their end had roots that began much earlier in the minds of the dispossessed citizens as this novel shows.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 16 March 2006
For any fans of Indian fiction this is the pinnacle. It tells of the last days of Delhi under the influnece of Muslim culture. Its essecntially a family novel told against an unfolding political backdrop. Highly reccomend it. This book recieves mention in Dalrymple's City of Djinns also.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 31 December 2012
Urdu poetry is weaved into the fabric of this fairly melancholic masterpiece, yet it remains anything but flowery. It's an instantly engaging reminder of a world that almost upped and vanished in 1947, and is fantastically evocative of life in Old Delhi before the modern era. As a relatively new resident of Delhi, and regular wanderer around the back streets of the Old town, I have found myself seeing the city through different eyes after reading this. That the author knew that this was a world that was on the precipice is evident, and you cannot help but feel a degree of sadness that so much has gone in such a short space of time. I'll never look at a kabutar (pigeon) the same way again.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 7 October 2008
A superb book! Dalrymple's latest book, 'The Last Moghul' tells us a lot about the end of Muslim rule in India, but this work conveys the pathos of the failed Mughals and Muslims much more effectively. Also by allowing the reader into the doggering, but still proud, Muslim aristocracy this book led me to understand why the partition (for which I had no empathy, till now) was a necessary evil. In its own way this book teaches at least as much as Dalrymple's. It is indeed a beautifully written book about a fascinating and important subject.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 22 July 2010
There is nothing more I can say other than for people who are interested in the old Muslim post mutiny era of Delhi to read this book and live a part of history.
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on 26 August 2015
I very much enjoyed this quirky, poetic novel about a Muslim family in Delhi in early 20th century British India. There are some desperately sad scenes - and the disturbing killing of cat - but the moments of humour, and unexpected imagery - 'yet he was still alive to mope like an owl' - balance the sadness. I got confused sometimes with who was who in the extended family but this is a minor quibble.
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on 29 September 2014
Informed and sensitive narrative, evocative of the essence of India. I bought this book on the recommendation of Hugh Dalrymple in his own book on Delhi.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 29 August 2013
For those interested in Indian history this is a facinating glimpse into what life may have been like in Delhi in the early years of the 20th century. I say 'may have been like' because the writer is Muslim and describes Muslim culture and I presume therefore does not write for Hindus. Muslim culture - in Delhi in 1911 anyway - does not come out of this well in that the story revolves around a Muslim family and details the confinement of the women to the zenana and the seemingly glib attitude of the men to taking mistresses and prostitutes. Regular attendance at Friday prayers by the male characters does not seem to have resulted in any behaviour modification and the author's own attitude seems to be one of tacit approval.

The introduction to the book also refers to the enslavement of Africans by western countries - I wasn't quite sure how this fitted into a book about life in India - yet for some reason the author ignores the heavy involvement of Muslim traders in African slavery which predated European activity by several hundred years. Of course the other inconsistency is that the Mughals and before them the Turkic and Afghan tribes, from whom the Muslims in India derive their religion, were themselves invaders who defeated the Indian rulers in the 16th and 17th centuries and 'colonised' much of India. The authors unwritten contention would seem to be that Mughal/Muslim civilisation was superior to that of the British/Christians. The simple fact of the matter is that just as the Mughal empire disintegrated in the face of Indian nationalism so did that of the British. Perhaps that says it all.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 1 November 2012
I think this book must have come from a shop as it appears not to have been touched. Really good value.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 13 July 2014
Excellent book.
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