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The City of Joy

4.17  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,734 Ratings  ·  329 Reviews
Made into a movie starring Patrick Swayze, this is the inspiring story of an American doctor who experienced a spiritual rebirth in an impoverished section of Calcutta.
Paperback, 552 pages
Published July 15th 1988 by Grand Central Publishing (first published 1985)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jul 16, 2007 Emon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
This book inspired by true story. To write this book, Dominique Lappier had to live in slum area in Calcutta, India for about two years. So that this slum area became the setting of the book.

The book told about the story of epic in a place called Anand Nagar or City of Joy. For Brother Stephan - a priest from Poland - came to this place made him to a suprise. He had to live in such filtry condition: a few water to share, bad sanition, etc. But, here, Stephan found the light of God that he seeked
Feb 09, 2008 Adam rated it it was amazing
This was one of the most amazing books I read; it changed my life! What sticks out in my mind to this day was reading about the poor giving the very last of their food to another who was even more poor and had less.

I finished this book in the Denver International airport between flights and cried my eyes out! Such a beautiful book, I recomend everyone to read it!
Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all)
The person who lent me this book was not someone I consider a close friend. When I gave it back to her she asked me if I "enjoyed" it. Without thinking, I responded, "It's not the kind of book you "enjoy", it's the kind of book that changes your life." She didn't get it.

It certainly changed my perspective on a lot of things. Yes, it is a novel, but it's based on the author's experiences with Calcutta's poorest. For some odd reason, it made me very aware of just how dependent we are in the West o
Anil Swarup
Dec 13, 2014 Anil Swarup rated it it was amazing
It is one of the most amazing books one has ever come across. The pathos of chaos couldn't have been better described. The book does not celebrate poverty but the author paints an incredible picture of the denizens of this city of Joy : "The poorer they were, the more eager they were to give ". He goes to describe "the miracle of these concentration camps" where "the accumulation of disastrous elements were counter balanced by other factors that allowed their inhabitants not merely to remain ful ...more
Jan 07, 2013 Vivek rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I haven't read such a beautiful book in recent times. Not that the writing is all that good, but the content and the real stories of struggle,pain and the spirit to life that strives even in the worst of conditions makes you wonder about the sheer mental strength it takes to be one among the original "City of Joy".

Though the setting is quite similar to largely explored themes in Indian movies and books by now, the sheer intensity of involvement of the main characters with the many heroes of the
Feb 13, 2009 Kevin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am not sure how to start in my review for this book. As a read it was written in a style that keeps you engaged. Alternating most chapters back and forth between two story lines allows you to become involved with the current and still be expectant about the coming chapter. Eventually both of these stories weave into one. Having just recently been to India I found the details to be accurate and he paints a viable image so you can see the story as you read it.

From a social standpoint, I was rep
Dec 23, 2007 Ann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ok, so I know they made some movie based on this book with Patrick Swayze, but that is irrelevant. This book tells the story of life in India and the struggles of a family forced to leave their country home and migrate to the crowded city of Calcutta if I remember correctly. I'm pretty sure that it is not a true story, but based on real events-maybe it's historical fiction. Anyway, I thought it was great.
Abi barlow
Mar 10, 2008 Abi barlow rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
probably my favorite book ever. I read it in 1999 whilst i was in India, and perhaps the fact that i was there made the scenes more vivid and real for me. Its an amazing depiction of how joy love and kindness can exist in povery, squalor and hardship.
Susanna Meynle
Kolkata is the one place in India that I travel to often. One of the places I actually want to go to college to.

To say this book changed my life is too much of an understatement. This book warms my heart as much as it breaks my heart.

My dad is Indian but he's not from mainland India, so he belongs to 'Tribal India'. We stay in a small city which was popularly known in the old days (and until now) as "Scotland of the East" due to the fact that the weather is pretty pleasant here as compared to
Jan 04, 2016 Lis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Comprato quasi per caso, l'ho visto gironzolando in libreria e mi ha incuriosito.
Ho letto di persone che vendono il sangue per mangiare e vendono le proprie ossa (dopo la morte) per pagare la dote della figlia. Ho letto di persone che fanno la fila per ore per andare in bagno e lavarsi con mezzo litro di acqua...quando va bene. Ho letto di persone annegate in un tombino dopo un monsone. Ho letto di persone morte di fatica mentre trascinavano un risciò con cui a stento guadagnavano da mangiare p
Sep 17, 2008 Margareth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-favorite
India...Selalu menarik dijadikan latar belakang cerita. Sarat dengan beragam budayanya yang unik. Sebut saja Interpreter of Maladies, God of the Small things, Rumah untuk tuan Biswas, Namesake, dll. Ditambah lagi buku yang satu ini.

Membaca buku ini termasuk menguras emosi, ada saat kita merasa ikut terharu, miris, marah, jijik, gemas, dan takjub.

Dari buku ini kita juga bisa belajar lebih banyak tentang makna 'joy'/bahagia. Bahwa kebahagiaan bisa muncul dan ada di mana saja. Termasuk di Calcuta,
Bunga Mawar
Bayangkan di pertengahan 1980-an itu ada seorang anak kelas dua SD, di Jakarta pinggiran.
Bayangkan anak itu hanya mendapat uang jajan duapuluhlima rupiah seminggu, sedangkan teman sekelasnya ada yang menghabiskan jajan seratus rupiah sehari.
Bayangkan anak ini belum boleh membaca cerpen di "Kompas Minggu", hingga ia setia menunggu jatah membaca cerbungnya saja, menanti kisah Musashi, Kane & Abel, dan juga City of Joy ini.

Bayangkan anak sekecil itu kemudian jadi trauma dan bertekad tidak mau m
Kirtida Gautam
Dec 18, 2014 Kirtida Gautam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
One of the most significant spiritual experience of my life has happened around this book. I had moved to Mumbai. Loneliness and depression were my accompanying emotions- 24*7. During those days, I didn't use to have money and I used to travel by buses. I was reading this book on the bus. The conductor gave me the ticket. He asked me how did I find the book? Now, this is not a title you expect to be read by the bus conductor. But he told me he has read the book. He started talking with me about ...more
Jun 24, 2015 Hitesh added it
3 reasons why you MUST read this book .

1. It will inspire you to be extremely hopeful of life.

2. It will make you so much more humble and grounded.

3. The book has instances that will make you shiver and yet provide invaluable lessons of life.

Jessica Culhane
Sep 27, 2015 Jessica Culhane rated it it was amazing
I read The City of Joy almost twenty years ago, in middle school. It had a profound effect on me, so when I saw a copy of it a few months ago in a book store, I bought it immediately. The second reading did not disappoint.

Much of the scenery of 1960s Calcutta was familiar to me as a tourist earlier this year to an entirely different part of India: the religious cacophony, the slum labor, the baksheesh, the festivals, the filth. Wild traffic, marigolds, eunuchs, kurtas and saris. Truly Kafkaesque
Dec 29, 2013 C-shaw rated it liked it
This book deserves the kudos which it has always received. What a heartbreaking, interesting story, based upon true lives of Calcutta's poorest-of-the-poor.

Sad story, very hard to read about the plight of these people. An interesting fact: Dominique LaPierre's wife is also named Domimique!
Sethu Jose
Jun 18, 2016 Sethu Jose rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Read books to live those lives that you could never have.

The City of Joy is a book that would plunge you into a vortex of bare reality filled with misery, abjection, hope and love. Finally, when you emerge from this whirlwind of experiences, your view on life would never be the same.

When I picked up this book to get a relief from the bunch of overwhelmingly high soaring books which I had been reading recently, little did I know that it was a cornucopia of humanity which would leave an everlastin

May 02, 2014 Tucker rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An exposé of poverty in wretched detail. People die slowly from backbreaking work or from hunger, or their limbs melt from leprosy long after their families have banished them because of the disease, or they fall into festering sewers and drown unnoticed. The slums of Calcutta arose due to an influx of people who exchanged the deprivation of the rural life for urban poverty, which was just another kind of precarious existence: "The earthquake that shook Bihar on January 15, 1937, caused hundreds ...more
Sep 19, 2015 Raghu rated it it was amazing
This book made me realize why I have two eyes! One, to cry with pain and grief for all those wretched and suffering on this earth, and the other, to cry with happiness and joy in how Life still sprouts and flourishes among all the pain, death and suffering! Though the flow in this book is very easy for anyone with decent knowledge of English to understand, one yet HAS to take break after every 10 or so pages, due the heavy impact the narrative has on the reader -- the heart becomes over-whelmed! ...more
(Kemungkinan besar bakalan jadi)MY 2015 BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR

Baru kali ini gw berharap dan berdoa dalam hati saat membaca sebuah buku. Terutama bab yg menceritakan tentang Hasari Pal, mantan petani dari desa Bengkuli, Benggala Barat, yg terpaksa hijrah ke Calcutta karena sudah tidak memiliki apa-apa di desa. Tiap memulai bab dengan tokoh Hasari ini, gw selalu berharap agar bab tersebut berakhir dengan kebahagiaan untuknya dan berdoa agar penderitaannya nggak makin bertambah. Ternyata, kebanyakan
Jul 18, 2014 ApettaVale rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: e-book
Ho voluto leggere questo libro per due motivi: il primo perchè dopo essere stata a Luxor e aver visto veramente cosa vuol dire la miseria, volevo "capirla"; il secondo, perchè dopo aver visto il film tratto dal romanzo diversi anni fa ne ero rimasta veramente affascinata.
Spesso accade che troviamo il libro nettamente migliore del film; in questo caso sono semplicemente diversi. Entrambi però lasciano un messaggio, e cioè che nella società in cui viviamo, in cui abbiamo tutto, in verità possedia
Vishal Talreja
Dec 26, 2014 Vishal Talreja rated it liked it
A story with a heart and showcases the true essence of love, caring and sharing in poverty. A beautiful and simple read with many poignant, joyful and heart-rending moments.
Paul Gaya Ochieng Simeon Juma
Inspiring and life changing. We shoul all try to read it to understand the value of serving others. Not to just have desires of our own.
Julia Kwek
It was a beautiful read, and here are some of my takeaways!

Often, when we think of community work in a third world country, we have the perception of a foreigner coming in to serve the locals who are completely powerless. However, in this book, it was the locals that provided Kovalski and Max with the strength to serve. The locals were the main actors in identifying needs and in providing manpower to carry out work. The virtues of the locals were recognised and tapped on. For example, Bandona ha
Kalyanasundaram Ragavendra
Apr 12, 2016 Kalyanasundaram Ragavendra rated it it was amazing
The book City of Joy is primarily written from two perspectives, that of the Polish priest Stephen Kovalski and that of a peasant turned slum dweller cum rickshaw driver Hasari Pal that very vividly describes the life in the slums of Anand Nagar and the struggles, challenges that result from it and the way through which the characters seem to get themselves out of it.

One of the most powerful ideas in this book that affected me was when the polish priest Fr Stephen was conscious about not being a
Kim Godard
Apr 03, 2013 Kim Godard rated it it was amazing
This book is as eye-opening as a trip to another planet. And that is what the Calcutta of the story is: a place so far removed from the average American's experience that to go there would be life-changing. The resiliency and inner peace of its inhabitants are marvelous to behold as story after heart-wrenching story unfolds. The stark differences between first-world and third-world problems is almost incomprehensible, but my thanks for this book and the attempts of its author to make me fully ap ...more
Jul 21, 2015 Segnalibro rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What should I tell about this book?I think that a simple review cannot be enough for describing how much power and beauty is hidden among its pages.
The true story that Domique Lapierre writes as a collection of interviews shows clearly the miserable and unbearable conditions of the inhabitants who populate the "slums" of one of the poorest,most overcrowded and polluted city in the whole world, Calcutta.
However, the suffering stories, masterfully portrayed by the author, have extraordinary things
Manaal Siddique
Aug 30, 2015 Manaal Siddique rated it it was amazing
The City of Joy by Dominique Lapierre emulates a story of the life of the poor inhabitants in the heart of India, also known as Calcutta or The City of Joy. The story mainly revolves around two main characters, Stephan Kovalski and Hasari Pal. Stephan Kovalski was a Catholic priest who lived in the slums of Calcutta along with Hasari Pal, an Indian farmer who came to Calcutta with his wife and children in the hopes of finding a source of income to support his family. Along the way, the two meet ...more
Nandita Goswami
Oct 27, 2014 Nandita Goswami rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best books I've read so far. Brings the reader face to face with the the people who lived in the Calcutta slums - their struggles , their pain , their joy and their magic. Dominique Lapierre writes a total unbiased account of the the people living in the new born independent India. His narrative transports you to the city of joy where people are the happiest ,despite living in the worst possible conditions. A learning lesson , indeed.
Shannon (Mrsreadsbooks)
Jan 26, 2016 Shannon (Mrsreadsbooks) rated it really liked it
This book was required reading for one of my undergraduate Anthropology classes during college. The cover looked very different and did not have the movie poster on it. I am surprised more people have not read this book because I really enjoyed it.

The book consists of three main narratives; Stephan, a Catholic priest, Max, an American doctor and Pal, an Indian rickshaw driver. They are all living in one of the slums in Calcutta, India. Their stories become interwoven and the author describes in
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Dominique Lapierre was born in Châtelaillon-Plage, Charente-Maritime, France. At the age of thirteen, he travelled to America with his father who was a diplomat (Consul General of France). He attended the Jesuit school in New Orleans and became a paper boy for the New Orleans Item. He developed interests in travelling, writing and cars.

He was awarded the Padma Bhushan, India's third highest civili
More about Dominique Lapierre...

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