Penguin £9.99 (253pp) £9.49 from the Independent Bookshop: 08430 600 030
The Beautiful and the Damned, By Siddhartha Deb
Arifa Akbar is literary editor of The Independent and i newspapers. She has worked at The Independent since 2001 as a news reporter and arts correspondent before joining the books desk in 2009. She was a judge for the Orwell Prize for books, 2013, and is currently a judge of the Fiction Uncovered Prize, 2014.
Friday 06 April 2012
If you have ever felt peeved at the application process for an Indian visa, your pain will be contextualised by Siddhartha Deb's administrative nightmare in India, which began in an unfeasibly long queue under an unfeasibly hot sun, and ended in a near punch-up, with a visa no further in sight.
Deb, whose account of "life in New India" is shortlisted for the Orwell Prize, takes us through the ironies and tragi-comedies of living in a country whose economy is growing fast but which can barely cope, in some cases, with modernisation.
There are some amazing and murky stories, from a self-made movie mogul's tale to a village riddled with farmers' suicides. Deb reveals a country of acute contrasts.
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