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India: A Million Mutinies Now

3.88  ·  Rating Details ·  1,364 Ratings  ·  77 Reviews
A New York Times Notable Book

Nobel laureate V. S. Naipaul’s impassioned and prescient travelogue of his journeys through his ancestral homeland, with a new preface by the author.
Arising out of Naipaul’s lifelong obsession and passion for a country that is at once his and totally alien, India: A Million Mutinies Now relates the stories of many of the people he met travelin
Paperback, 544 pages
Published March 22nd 2011 by Vintage (first published 1990)
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Lit Bug
Sep 15, 2013 Lit Bug rated it really liked it
Two months ago, I’d lemmed this book in frustration and declared passionately on GR that this was the only book I’d abandoned so far with the clear intention of never picking it up. Now you can see that I’ve not only finished it in a day, but also given it a hefty 4 star rating. And that too to Naipaul, a vocal critic of India who later diversified and expanded his tirades against female authors recently.

This book is India personified (bookified?)

Don’t expect it to arrest you with either facts
May 15, 2007 Raghu rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the third book on India by V.S.Naipaul and certainly the most conciliatory one of the three. His earlier books on India were written when Naipaul himself was much younger and perhaps as a result were more scathing and critical of India's negatives. But this book shows a certain mellow tone and compassion. He writes about the 'rage' of each community and caste and religion in India and perceptively observes that one's own rage and historical injustice suffered is more important than other ...more
Bleak and dispiriting.

In the final chapter Naipaul concludes that "Independence has worked for ...people more or less at the top" but that by 1990 "the freedom [independence] brought has worked its way down. People everywhere have ideas now of who they are and what they owe themselves."

That's a telling phrase: "what they owe themselves". Few of the men portrayed here seem able to spare much energy for those around them, even their own families. Most of the men (and in Naipaul's book we hear alm
V S Naipaul has often been accused of being unsympathetic in his view/portrayal of India, judging from his works. It's quite clear that though this Nobel laureate’s ancestral roots were in India, he never treated it like home and his loyalties were always with Trinidad (the country he was born in) and then Canada, where he chose to settle down.
Even then, Naipaul has had close cultural and literary connections with India and the fact that he has written at least three books on India is testimony
Rachel Rueckert
Feb 01, 2011 Rachel Rueckert rated it liked it
Shelves: india
This was the first book I read upon arriving in India. It was recommended to me by my friend, Jay, who said that this was a great representation of his first experience being in India, so I had it added to my directed readings course contract.

It is hard to sum up 500 pages worth of words, but I’ll try my best. This is about modern India, but a slightly dated version at that. While it is interesting (most of the time), thorough, and great at painting a sort of portrait for the reader of the co
Fred R
Mar 19, 2015 Fred R rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's probably not a coincidence that the only time Naipaul ever managed to be really optimistic about a developing country, it turned out to be India (reading this made me wish he had visited some East Asian country during its climb up the productivity ladder). That said, I'm more struck by how much more zero-sum status competition seems to be in India's fractured social landscape. The elaborate ceremonies of caste allow for economic and even social cooperation in very cramped spaces, but at the ...more
Easwar Chandran
Feb 18, 2012 Easwar Chandran rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought the prose of a Nobel laureate would be quite intimidating and complex. But I think the beauty of Naipaul’s prose is he never shows-off his vocabulary and provides a radical insight on some common practices in India. I think Naipaul loves India in his heart, but tries as much as possible to provide a balanced (maybe sarcastic) view towards some of the problems faced by the country
Sorin Hadârcă
Jun 05, 2017 Sorin Hadârcă rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: india, asia
An interesting stream of interviews, each of them a standalone story. But together? At first I thought this to be monotonous and lacking a core. Then I reconsidered: lacking a core is what the book is about- a million concurrent mutinies against a thin, frail, embryonic core. Well done.
Aug 12, 2011 Arpitha rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
V.S Naipaul is probabling still dodging feminist bullets after his comments on female writers in july this year. Its not hard to see why so many 'intellectuals' and public figures find his non fiction a little unsettling. his eassays are sharp , witty and intensly personal. In ' A million mutinies now' he Chronicles pre -liberalized India. the book is a memoir of his travels between 1988 and 1990. born in 1991, I was curious about the not so distant history which was more or less the gestationa ...more
Sep 04, 2015 Julián rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: viajes, india, ensayo
No estamos ante un libro de viajes al uso. El nobel Naipaul dedica la mayor parte del libro a dar voz a multitud de personas que entrevista en su recorrido por algunas ciudades indias, desde guionistas de Bollywood hasta extremistas de izquierdas y terroristas sijs.

El formato tipo entrevista narrada por el autor se mantiene a lo largo de todo el libro. Sólo al final, con el relato de su estancia en Cachemira, cambia de registro. Dejar que los protagonistas hablen puede tener su interés, pero res
Well... how to begin with this book.
It is not a novel, that I can tell, it's not an essay, it's quite near to journalism, but I think the most accurate definition would be "documentary". The author explains his several trips to India, but focusing on the people he met, that he interviewed.
The book is divided in 9 sections, each of them focusing in a particular aspect of India. We have the Brahmans, the untouchables, the communist movements, the Muslims, the Sikhs, women, cinema,etc. And to have
Aug 28, 2015 Arvind rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travelogue
4.5/5 My second book and travelogue by Naipaul, the first one being 'Among the believers'. There is a marked difference between the 2 works, this one was written a decade later and d author realised that his commentary should be kept to a minimum and let d people speak more. Also, these travelogues are about people and not geography and sometimes feel like reading historical fiction.
The author deliberately undertook a counter-clock wise journey of India starting with Bombay/Mumbai and I ended up
The Era in which this was written was the 90's...
Author travels wide and far to integrate the one nation theory and has a strong tilt towards the centralized functionality of the system which as per my consideration act to it's advantage and disadvantage...
There are various notions which he formalizes (to which even I agree)
1)That Post Independence the nation has improved along with it's citizens
2)There is power and crookedness in Politics
3)The one nation theory is fragile and is susceptible to
Scott Gilbert
Dec 14, 2011 Scott Gilbert rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, travel
Naipaul's trenchant and precise language is luxurious and intoxicating. He presents a variety of personalities and situations from across India, a rather casual sampling considering the vast population of the country. While he manages well to describe and give a feeling to the various regions, cities, desperations and exultations of the country, he does not quite manage to pull the picture together in any regard save the historical. And the historical insights he gives are extremely valuable, pe ...more
Charlane Brady
Jul 27, 2008 Charlane Brady rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Caught my attention from the beginning and held it too. I was traveling in India at the time and it went right along with my experience.
The third book of V.S. Naipaul on India, written 26 years after the first one in 1962 and 13 after the second in 1975, again shifts its writing premises and tackles its subject with a distinctly different approach from the other two books: While those had held up India to some kind of standard and measured it against that (the reality usually falling spectacularly short), India: A Milltion Mutinies Now attempts to take India entirely on its own terms, to not present it as viewed from the distanc ...more
Apr 28, 2011 Cbj rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: terrible-honesty
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Krupal Morjaria
I’ll be honest with you, as a young college student my ideal personal reading choices see saw between fantasy and thriller, so when my favorite high school history teacher recently gifted me a travelogue written in 1990 I was at loss for words. I had no intention of reading this book but a boring visit to the doctor’s office compelled me to skim through. V.S Naipaul had me hooked with the first chapter. As a native of India, I’ll admit my visits to the homeland are often sheltered and comfortabl ...more
Dec 29, 2012 Will rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
"It had been hard enough to drive past the area. It was harder to imagine what it was like living there. Yet people lived with the stench and the terrible air, and had careers there. Even lawyers lived there, I was told. Was the smell of excrement only on the periphery, from the iridescent black lake? No; that stench went right through Dharavi. Even more astonishing was to read in a Bombay magazine an article about Papu's suburb of Sion, in which the slum of Dharavi was written about almost as a ...more
Amrendra Pandey
The book is like a conversation between the writer and the reader. Enchanting and stimulating..
Mohit Somani
I Picked up this book with no expectations. While I knew Naipaul is a Nobel winning author, I wasn't sure what to expect out of his commentary on India. Closing this book now, I can say for sure, this book has enriched my understanding about my own people and their aspirations. in 2016, It's a billion mutinies now but the aspirations remain same as Naipaul observed. The book and it's title also answered one thing that have always bothered me that why don't we Indians revolutionize against govt. ...more
Ubaid Dhiyan
Dec 01, 2015 Ubaid Dhiyan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
V.S. Naipaul's portrait of the land of his ancestors comes full circle in this book, recounting a country and people struggling to come to terms with its complexity and its contradictions. Keenly observed and reported, from a journey taken nearly twenty six years ago, and twenty seven years after Naipaul's first encounter with India, reported in the much more pessimistic "Area of Darkness", it is surprising how contemporary this book feels even today. India is so intense in its diversity and cha ...more
Erik Akre
Feb 26, 2016 Erik Akre rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those interested in an in-depth look at Indian politics and history
The detail and eloquence of this book were stunning to me. Naipaul fleshes out such an incredibly vivid picture of contemporary life in India; it opens one's eyes to just how amazing it is, that a place with this geographical, ethnic, linguistic, and religious diversity could ever even be able to label itself a coherent "democracy." As Naipaul's inquiries and stories show, this label is actually quite dubious in itself. It appears that India has been swimming, trying to keep its head up, in its ...more
Jun 29, 2016 kapil rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Done with the chapter on Mumbai - And it is truest of the true portrait of different personalities we encounter only in this city- There are Shiv Sena leaders, underworld dons, screenplay writer from bollywood & Dalit poet who talk about what can be called as an insider view of Mumbai & politics within politics, set in the Mumbai landscapes - whether chawls of Dadar or slums of Dharavi. Magnificent! Such portrait i had only encountered in Marathi literature in India.

Done with whole book
Jun 12, 2012 Sharon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An impeccable piece of travel literature from the maestro. A journey across India in late 80s through Bombay, Goa, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Bengal, Lucknow, Punjab and finally Kashmir. Stories of extraordinary people in ordinary circumstances woven against rapidly changing socioeconomic fabric of pre-liberalisation era of the 90s. This is a very detailed book, took me nearly two months but this is not a book to be rushed through. One can feel his love for India and its people as well as sarcasm fo ...more
Raúl Sánchez
Apr 28, 2011 Raúl Sánchez rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Uh, me equivoqué de edición. Al parecer tengo una donde pegaron dos libros de Sir vidia. Me choca que la gente huevona no sea para buscar las imagenes d ela portada en Internet (que a veces, cuando no se puede no se puede. Pero este es un paperback, por favor) En fin, todo bien hasta ahora, ya sólo faltan quinientas paginas, pero va que vuela para cuatro estrellas... tal vez más



Más que un libro de viajes una colección de historias, de entrevistas. Conocemos Ind
Jun 30, 2012 Zareen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The book on India is about V.S.Naipaul's most recent visit to India in which he resolves his inner conflicts as expressed in An Area Of Darkness. With a mixture of journalistic writing & interviews, he explores the India of the latter part of the 20th Century through his encounters with religious, political or secular people throughout India. Naipaul has written a well researched ethnography combining vigorous journalism & participative observation of various members of Indian communitie ...more
Jul 19, 2015 Drew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, found
The very idea of India has always overwhelmed me so V.S. Naipaul's travelogue of his ancestors' homeland was a gift for me, a reminder that a culture is its people, that its people are made up of individuals, and that its individuals reflect its history. Major cities. Major religions. Naipaul spends time examining both. But he also allows himself to digress, with a fascinating chapter devoted to contemporary women's magazines in India at the time of his journey. This is a book that makes you wan ...more
Dec 02, 2008 Juliana rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Here V.S. Naipul revisits India, the land his ancestors left to work as indentured servants in Trinidad. In this very subjective take on the country, he comes to terms with his own family history, and tries to portray the country's growing pains. You see the poverty, the corruption, the stark religious divides you'd expect; the most interest aspect of the book are the lengthy interviews with Indians from various backgrounds (a Jain businessman, a Shiv Sena community organizer,etc) which allow th ...more
Niloy Mitra
May 26, 2008 Niloy Mitra rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Definitely a well written book. Very usual narrative style, mainly collection of interviews, but there is some underlying flow or thread that holds the text together. I learned a lot about India in early 90s, and great to read this book in perspective after almost a couple o decades.

The last part about Kashmir, specially the part with haggling about the price for boat ride went on and on, may be a bit out of the place? Didnt really like that part.

Overall a good read, but not a light read!
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Naipaul was born and raised in Trinidad, to which his grandfathers had emigrated from India as indentured servants. He is known for the wistfully comic early novels of Trinidad, the bleaker novels of a wider world remade by the passage of peoples, and the vigilant chronicles of his life and travels, all written in characteristic, widely admired, prose.

At 17, he won a Trinidad Government scholarshi
More about V.S. Naipaul...

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“Le Corbusier’s unrendered concrete towers, after 27 years of Punjab sun and monsoon and sub-Himalayan winter, looked stained and diseased, and showed now as quite plain structures, with an applied flashiness: megalomaniac architecture: people reduced to units, individuality reserved only to the architect, imposing his ideas of colour in an inflated Miróesque mural on one building, and imposing an iconography of his own with a giant hand set in a vast flat area of concrete paving, which would have been unbearable in winter and summer and the monsoon. India had encouraged yet another outsider to build a monument to himself.” 2 likes
“To awaken to history was to cease to live instinctively. It was to begin to see oneself and one’s group the way the outside world saw one; and it was to know a kind of rage. India was now full of this rage. There had been a general awakening. But everyone awakened first to his own group or community; every group thought itself unique in its awakening; and every group sought to separate its rage from the rage of other groups.” 1 likes
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