The City of Devi
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The City of Devi

3.26 of 5 stars 3.26  ·  rating details  ·  464 ratings  ·  109 reviews
A dazzling, multilayered novel that not only encompasses a searing love story but, with its epic reach, encapsulates the fate of the world.

Mumbai has emptied under the threat of imminent nuclear annihilation; gangs of marauding Hindu and Muslim thugs rove the desolate streets; yet Sarita can think of only one thing: buying the last pomegranate that remains in perhaps the e...more
Hardcover, 382 pages
Published February 4th 2013 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published February 2013)
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Vivek Tejuja
I started reviewing books when I first read, “The Death of Vishnu” by Manil Suri. In fact, that review is also one of the first on this blog. From there on I have read everything that he has written, not because of the fact stated above, but because I admire his writing and his thought process. Suri has the uncanny ability to make so much sense of ordinary situations. His characters aren’t larger than life, however the circumstances are and with good reason – to move the plot ahead, to make the...more
Jenny
Perhaps I should rate this book with two stars instead of one, simply because I managed to make my way through to the end. Also, I came to like the two main characters, Sarita and Jaz. I agree with another reviewer who wrote that the story seemed disjointed with the characters in that it felt like two entirely different plots. I was borderline offended at the excessive and over-the-top homosexual love scenes. Also, too many events seemed way too coincidental to believe, even in a work of fiction...more
Sara
It's the future, and much of India has disappeared through war. A bomb will be detonated in three days, so most of the people left are trying to flee. Chaos rules everywhere, especially with the tension between Hindus and Muslims. Everyone believes that the goddess Devi has appeared among them and that she's the only hope for saving the country. Sarita, a Hindu, is busy weaving her way through the country trying to find her husband, Karun, who mysteriously disappeared a few weeks earlier. Along...more
Sneha
Sarita-Karun-Jaz. The triumvirate around whom the book revolves.

I've never been a huge fan of the love-triangle plot. I often find them highly contrived, far too predictable and lacking novelty. Having grown up in Bombay on a typical diet of Bollywood romcoms, I think can be blamed for my prejudice. That and those horrible bisections in Geometry class!

This isn't like any of those triangles though. It's refreshing, positively blatant in several aspects(loved the gay love-making scenes in the book...more
Gerhard
An imminent nuclear strike by Pakistan has resulted in an eerily abandoned Mumbai, where gangs of marauding Hindu and Muslim youth clash, as a reflection of the broader religious and ethnic tensions of the day.

Against this volatile backdrop, newly-wed Sarita is searching for her missing husband, Karun, a physicist by training. She soon joins up with Ijaz (or the Jazster) on her quest -- unbeknown to her, however, they are both searching for, and in love with, the same man.

The initial synopses I...more
Siobhan
When this book is good, it is very very good; and when it goes awry it's a train wreck (no pun intended). That being said, I did enjoy the read very much, fast paced, never dull, certainly entertaining. The plot got away from itself in the last third of the book and just really came apart. I'm not a fan of multi narrator books and while the technique succeeds on some levels here, I'm not convinced it was necessary; especially since one of the characters (Jaz) is by far a more compelling and well...more
Judy B.
I wanted to like this more. Just phoning it is, Manil Suri can write a four-star novel, and this was definitely more than a wrote performance, but just not up to the artistry of his first book, The Death of Vishnu.

The story takes place in a Mumbai/Bombay on the verge of being nuked by Pakistan. The narration is shared by two characters navigating the insanity: Sarita, who is searching for her disappeared husband, and Jaz, who latches onto Sariita and tags along.

It is vividly clear that Suri li...more
Daman Sahni
I was chuffed to find a signed copy of Manil Suri's book at the Jaipur Literary Festival. Chuffed because his first was actually good, his second was not so good but I trusted him to get his groove back with the last of his triumvirate.

I am surprised by the raving jacket cover endorsements. This is a boring book. There is no character development. The story has no coherence. It is a bad book. Very bad book. When I begin to look at how many pages I have left to finish a book ( not in a good way)...more
Amanda
I have hugely mixed feelings on this book. On one hand, the first hundred pages were fantastic. I whipped through them. Sarita's journey in both the present day as she searches for Karun, and in the past as she describes the beginnings of their marriage, were fascinating. The setting of somewhat post-apocalyptic India was one I've never seen before and I loved the bits and pieces of culture and religion that were included in the world building. If the story had gone on like this, I would have ab...more
Kirat Kaur
I do agree with the critique that Manil Suri was over-reaching with this book and trying to cover too much ground, but i still think it was well worth the read. Suri painted a lot of really interesting (and scary!) scenarios in imagining the end-game that is nuclear politics on the subcontinent (and elsewhere). The personal stories of the triumvirate within the broader context are probably the strongest elements of the book, particularly the light that Jaz sheds on gay subcultures in Delhi and B...more
Cristina Garcia
Mar 30, 2014 Cristina Garcia marked it as read_in_2014
I just finished this book. Warning, there might be a spoiler or two in this review.

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That said. I should note that it broke my heart over and over. Just when I thought it wouldn't be a tragedy, when I thought there would be a happy ending, the book knocked my hopes back down.

I'm confused about the setting. Honestly, I haven't looked too much into it, but I'd like to know how historically accurate it is. This is a fiction so I assume some of what happened in the book didn't happen in real...more
Claire
I was nicely surprised by much in this story. The author did a nice job of interweaving religious, economic, political and sexual themes. I especially liked the open, straightforward narrative of Jaz's story. And despite the very different personalities between Surita and Jaz, I ended up liking them both; not an easy task for an author.

I think the one weakest point was a lack of needed development in the character of Karun, the object of desire for both of the main characters. I found it hard to...more
JS Found
Not bad--by which I mean not terrible--but pretty bland, even as it has a fantastic plot. The writing is cliched, pedestrian and has purple prose. Shame because the story's interesting. In a near future India riven by terrorism and war, a Hindu woman goes searching for her missing husband. She is accompanied by a stranger who turns out to be his Muslim ex-boyfriend. She has no idea her husband is gay. They look in a war torn world. Apparently, radical Islamic terrorists have engaged with the wor...more
Elaina
I picked up this book in the airport on this book enticed by the words, "apocalypse" and "romance." I was excited for a sort of trashy, exciting book - the equivalent of watching a favorite reality TV show with a glass of wine.

I was soon corrected.

This book ensconces prevalent social inequities, yet illustrates such with an entrancing story. I cannot pretend I was not surprised that the true love story is between two men, but I also cannot pretend that this love story did not touch me and ensure...more
Julie Babcock
Very weird. Watch out for very descriptive male on male scenes!
Melinda
Manil Suri does a wonderful job alternating between narrators in his novel The City of Devi. Suri does an amazing job with character development. He describes their lives in such a descriptive way, their desires are revealed in such a raw and vulnerable manner.

Suri's writing is intriguing, provocative and extremely descriptive. He did an outstanding job allowing the reader to have clear insight into human behavior. The City of Devi is unique and is well worth exploring, you will be pleasantly s...more
Lynne
The book blurb describes it as comedic. I beg to differ. It was a difficult book to read. It describes a world that has broken down with Pakistan and India at war and other developing countries dealing with missile attacks and the lawlessness that results. I found the unconventional "love triangle" strained credibility at times.

I really enjoyed Manil Suri's Death of Vishnu and like that book, Mumbai is one of the main characters. This book however did not capture the beauty, vibrancy and cosmop...more
Ron Charles
Manil Suri has written what’s sure to be the best sex comedy of the year about nuclear war between India and Pakistan. But the Baltimore mathematics professor is used to having categories all to himself. After all, his spectacular debut, “The Death of Vishnu” (2001), is the best novel ever about a man dying in a stairwell. His new book, “The City of Devi,” completes a loose trilogy about the Hindu trinity. Even amid the wondrous variety of contemporary Indian fiction, Suri’s work stands apart, m...more
Michelle
I won The City of Devi as part of a firstreads giveaway. The story takes place during a countdown to doomsday in India. Leaks from Pakistan indicate a nuclear attack on India will take place in a matter of days. While the general populace is fleeing cities, taking refuge in basements, and seeking solace in a questionable appearance by the goddess Devi, Sarita is desperately trying to procure a pomegranate. It might seem silly at first, but our heroine seeks it as a sort of tribute to/stand-in fo...more
Ellen
Quite interesting, quite odd. For the most part the book switches between sections of the past--Sarita and Jaz each meeting and falling in love with Karun--and the present--Sarita and Jaz making their way from southern Mumbai to Juhu beach and eventually to Diu together looking for Karun. I liked being in these characters' heads, even if Jaz was kind of an immature jerk at times and Sarita was a bit naive. Most of the story flowed quite well, and as I've mentioned, it was even injected with humo...more
Mark
“Four days before the bomb that is supposed to obliterate and kill us all...”

And with those words, I was hooked. At least, I thought I would be. I had been interested in reading Manil Suri’s bestseller, The Death of Vishnu, and saw the Goodreads giveaway contest for his newest book, The City of Devi, whose promised description of political upheaval, nuclear bombs, LGBT themes, immersion in Hindu (and Muslim) culture, and a commentary on all of the above caught my attention (and the cover looked...more
Pam McIlroy
The City Of Devi by Manil Suri is an extraordinary mix of thriller and romance, with Bollywood style highlights and layers of Hindu mythology, as it explores class and culture divides, the pain of disillusion, the destruction that is unleashed when believing in a false god, and the Hindu trinity of Vishnu (destruction), Shiva (maintenance) and Devi/Brahma (creation).

The novel opens a little way in the future in the city of Mumbai, where the threat of nuclear annihilation hangs over it like a clo...more
Karina
A turbulent, vivid dystopia set in a future India, seen through the eyes of two characters - Sarita and Jaz - linked by a desperate search for their lost loves in the ruins and chaos of Mumbai, as nuclear apocalypse threatens, violent Hindu and Muslim gangs roam the streets, and the rest of the world is cut off by malicious computer viruses that have destroyed global communications.

Atmospheric, sensual and darkly funny, the tale veers both between past and present and the two protaganists to add...more
Vinod Peris
The backdrop for the book is that India and Pakistan are at war and are threatening to annhilate each other. There's a looming threat of nuclear bombs being dropped on Mumbai and the city is in a state of chaos. The basic premise of a post apocalyptic India does not appeal to me and the first 100 pages of the book are dark and desolate. I did not care for the gory and brutal descriptions of the terror and mayhem in Mumbai.

The book opens with Sarita looking for her husband, Karun who has disappea...more
Sam
When we crack open The City of Devi, we meet a woman who’s venturing across the city in search of her husband, who has mysteriously disappeared. As Sarita makes her way to where she thinks he is, we get flashbacks to when she and her husband first meet as well as a peculiar complication that hangs over their marriage. Later on her fate gets intertwined with another character whom we also follow around, both through the city and through flashbacks. This guy, Jaz, is also in search of his loved on...more
Shweta
Three days after I finished reading City of Devi by Manil Suri, I sat down to write the review and after twenty minutes of serious staring at the computer screen and getting a bad headache, I dropped the idea. I loved the book and the frankness of it all but to collect my thoughts and pen it, I admit that part needed quiet a bit of an effort. Let’s see if I can do some justice here.

Manil Suri completes his trilogy of Shiva, Vishnu and Devi with this irreverent look at the lives of three people i...more
Laura
When we think about the end of world as we know it, do India and Pakistan feature as the places that will start it all? We should: they both have nuclear capabilities. The City of Devi is set in a world where a movie, Superdevi, has inflamed passions to such an extreme that Pakistan has declared that they will bomb Mumbai. The Muslims and Hindus are fighting it out, bombs are exploding in cities far away from India and chaos is reigning.

In the midst of this is Sarita, relatively newly married t...more
Deon Stonehouse
India and Pakistan are on the verge of nuclear annihilation, hackers have made useless most forms of computer information, nations flounder under a sea of misinformation and threat. Into this apocalyptic scene Sarita wanders searching for her missing husband Karun. Pakistan has issued an ultimatum; October 19th they will blast Mumbai out of existence. Most of the inhabitants fled, including the rest of Sarita’s family. It is a surreal, dystopian landscape she must travel to find Karun, a Mumbai...more
Ellyn Oaksmith
Weirdest love triangle ever. The first part of the book is told from the wife's point of view, knowing that her husband is missing after a series of bombs have gone off with the threat of a nuclear attack looming. Then the next section switches to the husband's lover, who is a guy. If you aren't expecting it, it's sort of off putting. One minute you think you're reading a love story and the next you wonder what the heck is going on. That being said, I did finish the book but found it went from w...more
Narendra
Magical realism with a "gay" touch. The background of nuclear, terrorism tinged, war on a global scale allows Suri to explore the depths of atrocious human behavior in society at large. Juxtaposed is a tender love story between two nerds, Sarita and Karin, who Suri develops into wholesome characters. To add a surprising twist we learn later that Karun is bisexual. Suri's writing seems to pick up a notch when he describes Karun's lover Jaz and their romance. It is refreshing to see homosexuality...more
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Manil Suri is an Indian-American mathematician and writer, most notable for his first novel, The Death of Vishnu.

He attended the University of Bombay before moving to the United States, where he attended Carnegie Mellon University. He received a PHD in mathematics in 1983, and became a mathematics professor at the University of Maryland Baltimore County.

He still continues to hold this job even th...more
More about Manil Suri...
The Death of Vishnu The Age of Shiva Mother India

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“Perhaps this was the greatest genius of the cyber jihadis: the monopoly they clinched on information. They realized how helplessly addicted the population had become to knowing in this information age. So what if news was tainted or unreliable? - people needed their daily fix.” 3 likes
“I made sure we fucked whenever the conversations got too emotional or too long - we weren't lesbians, after all.” 2 likes
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