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The Beautiful and the Damned: A Portrait of…
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The Beautiful and the Damned: A Portrait of the New India

by Siddhartha Deb

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This is an interesting book that paints an unsparing view of contemporary India in the form of five extended chapters. Three chapters are detailed profiles of archetypal subjects, and the other two look broadly at the lives of farmers and factory workers.

The book came alive for me most in the three chapters portraying the individuals, one a hucksterish entrepreneur, one an engineer and one a young woman trying to make it in the big city. ( )
  Laura400 | Nov 2, 2011 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0865478627, Hardcover)

A Globe and Mail Best Books of the Year 2011 Title
 
Siddhartha Deb grew up in a remote town in the northeastern hills of India and made his way to the United States via a fellowship at Columbia. Six years after leaving home, he returned as an undercover reporter for The Guardian, working at a call center in Delhi in 2004, a time when globalization was fast proceeding and Thomas L. Friedman declared the world flat. Deb’s experience interviewing the call-center staff led him to undertake this book and travel throughout the subcontinent.

The Beautiful and the Damned examines India’s many contradictions through various individual and extraordinary perspectives. With lyrical and commanding prose, Deb introduces the reader to an unforgettable group of Indians, including a Gatsby-like mogul in Delhi whose hobby is producing big-budget gangster films that no one sees; a wiry, dusty farmer named Gopeti whose village is plagued by suicides and was the epicenter of a riot; and a sad-eyed waitress named Esther who has set aside her dual degrees in biochemistry and botany to serve Coca-Cola to arms dealers at an upscale hotel called Shangri La.

Like no other writer, Deb humanizes the post-globalization experience—its advantages, failures, and absurdities. India is a country where you take a nap and someone has stolen your job, where you buy a BMW but still have to idle for cows crossing your path. A personal, narrative work of journalism and cultural analysis in the same vein as Adrian Nicole LeBlanc’s Random Family and V. S. Naipaul’s India series, The Beautiful and the Damned is an important and incisive new work.
 
The Beautiful and the Damned is a Publishers Weekly Best Nonfiction title for 2011.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:38:43 -0400)

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"A personal, narrative work of journalism and cultural analysis, The beautiful and the damned examines India's many contradictions through five individual perspectives."--Publisher's description.

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