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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb
This is a truly wonderful story by a master-storyteller. In brief it is about the pursuit of an academic by his wife and gay lover against the backdrop of a post-apocalypse Bombay. The story captures India beautifully from the manic sectarian hatred of the Hindu and Muslim hard-liners to the wonderful nuttiness of the cult of a living child Saint against the ruins of...
Published on 24 Mar. 2013 by stupormundi

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable but uneven
Having read and enormously enjoyed Manil Suri's two previous books I was very much looking forward to The City Of Devi. But I was quite a bit disappointed. Although he still writes well and the story has sparks and moments of intense interest and "dark humour", I found the book every uneven and although I enjoyed the human interest of the story of the three main...
Published 23 months ago by mrs a.smith


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable but uneven, 3 Jun. 2013
This review is from: The City of Devi (Kindle Edition)
Having read and enormously enjoyed Manil Suri's two previous books I was very much looking forward to The City Of Devi. But I was quite a bit disappointed. Although he still writes well and the story has sparks and moments of intense interest and "dark humour", I found the book every uneven and although I enjoyed the human interest of the story of the three main characters, I was bored and confused by the general setting of the"apocalyptic war and imminent nuclear menace hanging over Mumbai
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3.0 out of 5 stars X-rated futuristic Bollywood, 10 Dec. 2014
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Dr R (Norwich, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The City of Devi (Paperback)
There is little doubt that the Indian novel, written at home or abroad, is extremely vibrant. Few though have had the apocalyptic background of Manil Suri’s third novel published in 2013.

The novel, which might have had the subtitle ‘Story of a Pomegranate’, opens after a decade of global terrorism and warfare following the destruction of the World Trades Centre. India has been invaded by both China and Pakistan. Terrorists threatened and acted, and cyber-attacks disabled institutions, computer networks and mobile phones, leaving rumour to accentuate global panic.

The reader is introduced to the intercommunal religious and ethnic strife in Mumbai, City of Devi, through Sarita, a woman desperately searching for her physicist husband, Karun. Throughout the book, Suri’s descriptions of ruined landscapes, violent marauding groups and ecstatic crowds greeting their social and religious leaders are impressive.

Sarita provides her backstory and that of Karun, both inexperienced in relationships, and the author very sensitively describes their initial hesitancy and the gradual tenderness that grows between them. It is very clear to the reader, even if it was not stated in the publisher’s blurb, that there is a buried secret that affects their relationship. The book then explains this in detail, some might argue excessive detail, and gradually the various elements of the story are brought together for Sarita, Jaz - a young Muslim she has saved from being murdered by Hindu extremists – and Karun to escape from forces seeking to annihilate them.

Any one of these three elements, love story, religious and societal meltdown, and thriller would have made an interesting book but Suri seeks to integrate them and is let down by his ambition. The switching between the narrow focus on the leading characters and the panoramic dimension of massacres and religious fanaticism is not completely successful. References to the regional and global geo-political collapse offer an interesting backdrop but are rather flatly presented. The author describes more convincingly the violent fanaticism associated with Devi maa, a goddess who has appeared to save Mumbai, and the way that she and her followers are manipulated by seeking to promote regional and global chaos.

Of the central characters, Karun remains decidedly wooden and unconvincing; given that he was the focus of the search and the character that brought Sarita and Jaz together, this was a serious structural weakness. Sarita is the most convincing, largely because it is through her compassion that we are drawn into a story that, at times, seems too obviously constructed and teeters on the edge of a cartoon. We share her distraught conclusion that Mumbai, ‘the city, as I knew and loved it, is gone’ but later her admission that ‘Caught up in the turmoil of my personal life, I failed to notice’, the religious atrocities surrounding her is unbelievable.

The author’s background as a mathematician is evident in his references to complex science [Karun, for example, submitted a thesis entitled ‘Non-Abelian evolution of chromo-Weibel instabilities based on hadronic spectra observables’]. Sarita meanwhile applies her statistical knowledge to review her marital harmony, ‘Our performance had a weekly mean of 4.35 stars over the past five months or so, with a standard deviation of 2.72.’ which leads her sister to comment ‘The average seems a bit low for newlyweds. But why worry? You know now that his machinery works.’

The number three is a thread within the novel, relating to the triad of Vishna, Shiva and Devi, the basic configuration of the universe, the key characters through whom the story is narrated, and the primary colours that contribute to the impact of colourful images that suffuse the book.

As a thriller, there are too many coincidences and opportunities for characters to escape appalling fates, but the dramatic story does hold the reader. I imagine that those with knowledge of the region described might find the story even more engaging. The introduction of a Bollywood superhero movie, Superdevi, that stimulats the growth of the Hindu nationalist movement that threatens the country's breakdown, allows Suri some satirical barbs but adds little.

The author incorporates many Americanisms [including nix, sic (as a verb), missus and shtick] that jar horribly with his Indian-based narrative. In many ways this is a courageous novel that is weakened by excessive repletion and an overly-complex storyline, or storylines, 7/10.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb, 24 Mar. 2013
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This review is from: The City of Devi (Kindle Edition)
This is a truly wonderful story by a master-storyteller. In brief it is about the pursuit of an academic by his wife and gay lover against the backdrop of a post-apocalypse Bombay. The story captures India beautifully from the manic sectarian hatred of the Hindu and Muslim hard-liners to the wonderful nuttiness of the cult of a living child Saint against the ruins of familiar Bombay landmarks ruined by a devastating Indo-Pak war. A truly wonderful book with superb characterisation especially the bitchy gay hero. Do not miss this jewel.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Silly book which I didn't get. Good aspects though., 6 Jan. 2015
By 
Mysay (Wythall, Worc.) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The City of Devi (Paperback)
Silly book which I didn't get. Good aspects though.

I felt a bit frustrated by this book because I just missed the point and found it very silly. I didn't believe in or was interested in the plot in the slightest. I found it didn't hold my interest and I wasn't bothered what happened. It took me ages (for me) to read which is a bad sign.

The frustration was that I enjoyed the characters and thought they had real promise, and the relationships between the three were well explored. Much of it was quite touching and I believed in them and shared their problems.

The author did well describing the aspects of gay life (of which I know little) and of the general longing to love and be loved (of which I know more).

I would read another book by the author because I am sure there is a better book in there somewhere.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars, 24 Jan. 2015
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This review is from: The City of Devi (Hardcover)
good read
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1 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another good book...., 1 April 2013
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This review is from: The City of Devi (Hardcover)
My sister asked me to order this for her as she is an avid reader of the weird and wonderful. It arrived in time, was well packaged, and she is eager to return to her home in Italy to begin reading. Can't comment for her but I am sure she will thoroughly enjoy it.
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The City of Devi
The City of Devi by Manil Suri (Hardcover - 14 Mar. 2013)
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