The Age of Kali: Travels and Encounters in India Paperback – 21 Jun 1999
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William Dalrymple has proved himself to be one of the most perceptive and enjoyable travel writers of the 1990s. His first book In Xanadu became an instant back-packer's classic, winning a stream of literary prizes. City of Djinns and From the Holy Mountain soon followed, to universal critical praise. Yet it is to India where Dalrymple continues to return in his travels, and his fourth book The Age of Kali is his most reflective book to date.
The result of 10 year's living and travelling throughout the Indian subcontinent, The Age of Kali emerges from Dalrymple's uneasy sense that the region is slipping into the most fearsome of all epochs in ancient Hindu cosmology: "the Kali Yug, the Age of Kali, the lowest possible throw, an epoch of strife, corruption, darkness and disintegration". The brilliance of this book lies in its refusal to slip into the cultural pessimism of books such as V.S. Naipaul's Beyond Belief. Dalrymple's love for the subcontinent, and his feel for its diverse cultural identity, comes across in every page, which makes its chronicles of political corruption, ethnic violence and social disintegration all the more poignant. The scope of the book is particularly impressive, from the vivid opening chapters portraying the lawless caste violence of Bihar, to interviews with the drug barons on the North-West Frontier, and Dalrymple's extraordinary encounter with the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka. Some of the most fascinating sections of the book are Dalrymple's interviews with Imran Khan and Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan, which read like non-fictional companion pieces to Salman Rushdie's bitterly satirical Shame. The Age of Kali is a dark, disturbing book which takes the pulse of a continent facing some tough questions. --Jerry Brotton
‘Dalrymple is probably the best travel writer of his generation’ Daily Mail
‘The future of travel writing lies in the hands of gifted authors like Dalrymple’ Sara Wheeler, IndependentSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
I was born in India, left at the age of two and have returned for numerous visits since. Such entertaining and informative writing helps to explain and endear a country about which, on some levels, I know a fair amount, and on other levels I have often felt at a great loss to even begin to comprehend. In particular, the chapter about Hyderabad, fascinated me. My mother has often told stories of the great wealth and beauty of the city when she was growing up there in an affluent Muslim neighbourhood, but having seen it only in the 1970s to 1990s, I found these stories slightly unbelievable. Reading Dalrymple's book will certainly make me look at the city in a new light next time I visit, as it has explained the context and history of it with an insight and an interest that I have not found elsewhere.
Whereas 'City of Djinns' and his later work 'White Mughals' were heavy on historical narratives and anecdotes, 'The Age of Kali' finds the author a more visible presence. Like in his stunning debut 'In Xanadu', the book leaves you impressed by his bravery in pursuit of his subject. From accessing the base camps of the Tamil Tigers to travelling the lawless mountain routes of Northern Pakistan, Dalrymple builds a vivid and remarkable picture of the region seldom exposed by journalists of any nationality, and often with considerable personal risk.Read more ›
Having travelled across India I can safely say that reading this book is almost as good as being there. You can "feel" India, you can hear it and you can smell it as you sit, transported. I loved every inch of India and I loved every word in this great book.
Not since James Cameron's "Indian Summer" and Vikram Seth's "Suitable Boy" have I felt this way.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Amazing read. I was off to india for a holiday, this really helped with the background, and setting the scene. It's a tough read in parts, full on, but worth the effortPublished 4 months ago by Michael Ward
A superb description of modern-day India. Dalrymple is a pleasure to read, as in all his books.Published 4 months ago by R
If you know India you will relate to this book. It's like being there. You don't know if you are faced with the best or the worst of humanity.Published 9 months ago by david Kingstree
William Dalrymple is a very good writer! He knows how to render alive the magic of India...
I really enjoyed all his books. Bravo!