India: A Million Mutinies Now
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India: A Million Mutinies Now

3.83 of 5 stars 3.83  ·  rating details  ·  798 ratings  ·  56 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 traveling...more
Paperback, 544 pages
Published March 22nd 2011 by Vintage (first published 1990)
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Lit Bug
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...more
Raghu
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
Sandhya
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...more
Hana
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...more
Arpitha
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
Teresa
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...more
Rachel Rueckert
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...more
Manjunath
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...more
Scott Gilbert
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
Easwar Chandran
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
Charlane Brady
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.
Cbj
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
Will
"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
Sharon
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
Rajendra Dave
Slightly arrogant, condescending attitude of the author shows. In a way this is understandable as he is not really writing for Indian readers.

Otherwise, a book written with Sir Vidia's characteistics insight and interpretation of human thoughts and actions.

Raúl Aníbal
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

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Más que un libro de viajes una colección de historias, de entrevistas. Conocemos Ind...more
Zareen
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
Juliana
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
Bhupen Chauhan
The book describes how India has come up after being invaded on numerous occasions and VS Naipaul does this description beautifully, with the flow always being gripping, and in a format of conversations and his own insights, the last couple of pages summarizes the book in a perfect manner, but i was a bit let down at the very last paragraph, it just did not give me the closure of having completed the book, but it may be my own personal injustice to the book, of not being able to read it in a con...more
Niloy Mitra
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!
Heather
This book is a commitment. It took me a good month to read, was very slow going at times, but totally worth it in the end. Naipul asks the most fascinating questions, and manages to create these 3 dimensional very real people and weave their stories together to give what feels like an insider view of India.
The book is travel writing meets current events (although it was written 20 years ago). If you are interested in foreign culture or anything India, the book is definitely worth the time.
Cijo Jose
I loved this book. Naipaul managed to capture what makes India special. As an indian myself, the expectation was for this book to just like any other book attemtpting to showcase the different cultures within in India and failed by emphasising the stereotypical views. However, a completely different perspective was seen by my reading of this book. Naipaul took me on a journey that made me appreciate the true beauty of the country of India, this book was truly an inspiring read.
Clucklikeahen
Jan 07, 2012 Clucklikeahen is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
I read 3/4 of the book before I lost it in my travels. Its always interesting to read about India while in India, but this book was awesome in teaching me about parts of India I had never learned about before through the very real stories/interviews Naipaul creates. There's this cool feeling of familiarity with all of the interviews that I really enjoyed, but the book goes by a bit too slowly for my typical taste, but perfect for this year
Amanda
difficult to think about. important
Srikanth Mantravadi
A little dated but nevertheless lays down the groundwork for the quintessential post-Independence India travelogue whose famous exponents include Dalrymple and Suketu; be it the specific to general approach (intense focus on the particular and sum of the parts) or the extensive use of oral accounts. Naipaul's wide eyed wonder and penchance for analysing the obvious (for us Indians) can get annoying but can be glossed over.
Sara
Wow. Well where to start. This book is very long and it took me quite awhile to get through it, but I'm glad I did.
I definitely feel like I know India/Indian history a lot better now...although it raised as many questions as it did answers.
And there are so many things I should probably now look up so I understand even better...but who knows if I will.
Crazy crazy country. Very well written.
Rupert Lewis
This is a book that taught me much about India and her development. Naipaul allows us entry into the lives of gangsters, film makers , terrorists, bigots, politicians, revolutionaries, poets, bureaucrats, writers and poor people. It is a large canvas befitting a country of a billion people and the mutinies abound. Out of this huge and diverse place complex struggles emerge for wealth, survival and power,
Blake
My favorite moments: someone who lived in a "chawl" (Mumbai slum) said something like: "if you need peace and quiet to study, get up at 2:00 a.m. and you'll have all you need." About the same place in the book, someone was reported to have gone crazy by all the peace and quiet in a normal apartment - they missed "the comfort of human voices." Romanticized or not, it was a good view of India.
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3989
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
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“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.” 0 likes
“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.” 0 likes
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