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A Bad Character

3.31  ·  Rating details ·  727 ratings  ·  140 reviews
A highly charged fiction debut about a young woman in India, and the love that both shatters and transforms her
She is twenty, restless in New Delhi. Her mother has died; her father has left for Singapore.

He is a few years older, just back to India from New York.

When they meet in a café one afternoon, she—lonely, hungry for experience, yearning to break free of tradition—
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published January 20th 2015 by Knopf (first published January 1st 2014)
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Anne Millen The theme is abusive relationships, and the fascinating thing is that the book becomes the abuser, the reader the victim. For me, as for many who read…moreThe theme is abusive relationships, and the fascinating thing is that the book becomes the abuser, the reader the victim. For me, as for many who read it, it was immediately intriguing - compulsive reading, despite the unattractive cover. This mirrors the relationship. A needy girl meets an ugly man and 'recognises' him and he his victim. It is 'love at first sight' - typical of an abusive relationship. Read on and you start to realise he is abusive but can't stop reading ... (less)

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Oct 11, 2014 rated it liked it
And across the room he is staring at me.

I've been stared at a lot of course; it's what happens here, it's what men do. Every day from door to door, on the buses, stepping through rubble on the edge of the road, in the car stuck in traffic, at red lights. Stares of incomprehension, lust, rage, sad yearning, so vacant and blank sometimes it's terrifying, sometimes pitiful. Eyes filling the potholes, bouncing down the street like marbles, no escaping their clank. Eyes in restaurants, in offices, in
Vibrant, dark and passionate, Deepti Kapoor's short debut novel - which feels like a memoir - is a meditation on the life of a young, educated woman in modern India, and a raw account of a forbidden and ultimately destructive relationship. The narrator is apparently named Idha, but this is only referenced once, on the first page, and there is some ambiguity as to whether it is even her real name: 'I give myself a name, I wear it out... A charm that protects me.' Idha means 'insight' - maybe the ...more
Jan 02, 2015 rated it liked it
He was known to us, he was a bad character.
It's a phrase they use sometimes, what some people still say. It's what they'll say about me, too, when they know what I've done.

This was not at all what I expected. You can describe this novel as a girl's sexual awakening in modern India, but a one-sentence description does it a disservice. I'm still not exactly sure what I read. It's a character study, told in occasionally beautiful and occasionally maddening prose, about the narrator's experience of
Rajat Ubhaykar
Breathlessly narrated memoir posing as fiction. Has superb impressionistic prose with some of the best descriptions of Delhi I've read (and I'm counting City of Djinns and Capital here). Female sexual awakening & the perils of living in Delhi are the central themes of A Bad Character; how a 20-year-old college girl discovers life beyond classes and staid middle-class existence, aided by an 'ugly', dark, animal-like man (who looks like a servant, if not for his New York accent) whom she picks up ...more
Jan 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
This debut novel by Deepti Kapoor reflects on Indian culture and its paradoxical stance with regard to womanhood. The protagonist, a respectable unmarried young lady, gets secretly involved with an older man. The book starts the moment he gets killed, and all that is left is a story to recount.

In my view, the title refers mainly to the heroin of the book, "A bad character" by Indian standards. That is "old India", of course. The book depicts, through the adventures of this raw and sometimes fera
Aishwarya Saxena
Nov 11, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: romance, fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
It started off wonderfully, much to my surprise. I'm not much of a fan, when it comes to coming of age in a haze of drugs and sex. Ill advised, and sure to end badly. For a person who's always had a head obsessively over her shoulders, this type of protagonist is especially hard to relate to. But, this novel was an exception. I believed this young college girl when she said that she felt the lure of something untamed, something animal. The writing was hypnotic, and painted a wonderful, if bleak ...more
Jan 30, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: indian-authors
I wouldn't have heard about this author or thought of reading this book if I hadn't attended the Jaipur litfest and heard her speak about it during a couple of events. To me the novel was more related to 'writing the city' in particular 'Delhi' than about a love story. The relationship between the two characters didn't come across as love but as some kind of sick, escapist obsession between a twenty-year old dying to escape her life and a twenty-eight year old who doesn't know what to do with hi ...more
Jun 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read the book last night. Came back from dinner and finished it in one sitting, it is hard to put down. The books grips you and sucks you into its ‘darkness’. Very gripping, flows very well and breaks the boundaries of traditional moral high-ground. Its about love and sex, poverty and wealth, the tiredness of living in a Delhi that belongs to men, its about passion, drugs, lies and dreams of a young free woman.

I liked the dramatized characters, the extremism, the madness, the ease with which
Lots of this book is gorgeous! What a lovely conceit - to show our heroine round Delhi, with the reader in tow. What sensuous writing! I thought I might get fed up of all the adjectives and evokings, but I didn't. And Delhi is now a lot more real to me than after any of the other Delhi-books I have read.
As the book drifted on, I did start to wonder where the author was going to go with it. And I wasn't at all as pleasured by the drug stuff, or by the inconclusive ending as by the initial parts.
I am probably in the minority when I say this, but I was underwhelmed by this book. It begins well - it is gripping, and Kapoor's unique narrative style has all your attention, but towards the middle, it meanders - a lot - and by the time you reach the end, you just want the book to get over.

Having said that, Deepti Kapoor is definitely a writer to watch out for, and I am looking forward to read more of her books!
Jan 06, 2015 rated it liked it
A romantic and sentimental ode to Old Delhi and its dust, heat, sweat, violence, faith, and passion--above all the intensity American readers associate with India. It becomes an allegory for the modernization of India via the obsessive control of the narrator's lover, a Westernized man with a God complex, obsessed with the "future", which for New Delhi looks an awful lot like a shopping mall. Kapoor uses sex as her illustration of the power struggle, sometimes a little crassly if you ask me.
Umesh Kesavan
Jul 27, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: iwe, novels, fiction
"Only Delhi is no place for a woman in the dark unless she has a man and a car or a car and a gun"

This dark novel explores the emotional turmoil (and sexuality) of a single woman set against the backdrop of a metropolis (Delhi) which is at the cusp of change. The novel works in it's pithy yet evocative descriptions of the changing landscapes of Delhi.This is a work about a woman and a city wherein the latter is handled better.
this novel was about female desires and corruption in delhi felt that the novel itself was a good idea but the author should of developed it further and skimmed around the plot abit but this book maybe not going to be everyone's cup of tea though.
Julie Mann
Jan 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Kapoor's debut novel, A Bad Character, tells of a young woman's descent into the darkness of an abusive relationship amid the chaos that is modern Delhi. Said to be semi-autobiographical, this is an atypical coming of age story that is both gritty and raw. A powerful and worthwhile read.
Devyani Saini
Aug 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Haunting and surprisingly real. Gave me shivers. The writing is lyrical but raw, leaving no room for doubt.
Somewhat disappointing end, but it was to be expected. Will be reading more by this author.
Jun 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-i-own
Narrated in vignettes, altering fluidly between the past and the present, the novel poignantly encapsulates the angst of a middle class young girl, desirous of breaking free the manacles of societal and filial expectations.

Elucidated as a voice of the twenty-first century Delhi, A Bad Character is the story of a young girl, Idha in her twenties, narrated ten years later in retrospect by her much mature self. Left alone after the death of her mother and the absent father who abandons her, Idha co
May 28, 2019 rated it liked it
Triggering with certain aspects disturbing. Rating 3/5 as the writing style and language was good but it was emotionally draining for me.

Major Trigger Warnings: sexual abuse, death, drug abuse
Gill's likes reading
An interesting book, I enjoyed reading most of it, but felt if was very depressing.

The life of Idha started with her feeling different to what she felt she should have been, and it went downhill from there.

The name Idha appears only once in the book and I was unsure that this was her name, also her lover’s name is never used, almost as if they are the anonymous and nameless with equally unchartered lives.

She is a person who is tortured by living in a modern Delhi, never fitting in or meeting
Johanna Markson
May 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
A Bad Character, Deepti Kapoor
An intense way to escape the cold - reading this book about modern day heat soaked Delhi and a dangerous love affair. The writing has a trance-like quality, with short paragraphs that jump back and fourth in time to tell the story. The book is also an ode to the new and vastly changing India, through its detailed description of Delhi; it's gore and glory, it's multitude of rich and poor, it's very old and fast burgeoning new, its endless roads and streets and lanes
Jan 27, 2015 rated it liked it
I found A Bad Character to be a unique read. The storyline follows a young woman living in New Delhi. Her mother died when she was just seventeen and she is left with her Auntie who is trying to secure a good marriage for her. The story flips back and forth to her past and present at age twenty when she meets a man and begins a love affair. He has visited New York and has experienced so much more than she has, which she envies him for.

As the story flows, you get to see how destructive her relati
Michelle D’costa
Jan 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book’s female protagonist is a young girl in Delhi with a middle class upbringing. The way her upbringing (the stifling of desires because of middle class morals) bubbles into rebellion is expressed well.

The non-linear narrative portrays memory well and keeps you turning the page. The city of Delhi is a character in the book. A character whose ugly side is shocking- the under belly. The subtle and explicit violence towards women depicted in the book reminds me of two instances: Delhi gang
Jun 30, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A heady, fever dream glimpse at one woman’s experience of love and life in India.

Flitting between first and third person this intoxicating novel follows Idha as she struggles to come to terms with her past and find peace with her future. Idha finds it difficult to align her own sense of self with the expectations society has of her -with her Aunty serving to constantly remind her of the place of women and the things she should be striving for in the future. Idha feels trapped and confused by her
May 24, 2015 rated it did not like it
I didn’t much care for Deepti Kapoor's "A Bad Character." All those grimy and malodorous images of India, the abusive relationship, the slow purposeful decent into self-loathing, and the relentless ugliness simply dragged me down every time I read. If there was a hidden message in Kapoor's delicate angry prose, promising so much more than a pedestrian yet troublesome tale of a young women's obsessive and self-destructive fling with the titular character, it crept past my frustrated eyes like a t ...more
Jessica Woodbury
I almost didn't come back to this book. I put it down when something else came in and almost didn't pick it back up again. I'm glad I did.

A Bad Character is from a long line of novels of women in repressed society breaking out and discovering themselves through sex and forbidden romance. Kapoor is a lovely and lyrical writer and while the beginning of the novel is perhaps a bit too slow, once it gets moving it's constantly buzzing with lust and love and heartbreak.

When self-discovery meets self
The most beautiful thing about A Bad Character is Kapoor’s prose, and the way the story is able to move back and forth across time. Sometimes, the story gets a bit abstract, and the nonlinear story might be hard to follow or understand, but the beauty of the author’s writing keeps everything working together. Just as much an exploration of a city as an exploration of the narrator’s misbehavior, this is also a book that offers a lot of sensual details to form a complete image of Delhi. It’s a sho ...more
Feb 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
For some reason, I was under the impression that this debut work belonged to the genre of erotica. But the book was a revelation. What worked for me was the fact that the story was not just about a destructive relationship based on lust and abuse but also an exploration of the hedonistic geography of Delhi. That’s something I probably will never get to experience first-hand!
Interesting book. Very dark. Very well written.
Dec 07, 2015 rated it it was ok
Definitely won't be reading any future books by this author. Really disliked her writing style, and this just wasn't a good book, plain and simple.
Feb 25, 2015 marked it as to-read
Huffington Post - Bottom line:
A fiery, incandescent debut, A Bad Character artfully captures the fragmented psyche and perilous desires of a woman alone in New Delhi.

“These words are his cremation,” says the woman narrator of A Bad Character, of the boyfriend we’ve learned is dead in the first line of the novel. Deepti Kapoor’s debut novel smolders with the submerged rage, pain, abandonment and erotic desire that drive her heroine, Idha; it’s a paean to a relationship already in ashes, and to a
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Deepti Kapoor was born in Moradabad, Uttar Pradesh, and grew up in Bombay, Bahrain and Dehradun. In 1997 she went to the University of Delhi to study journalism and later completed an MA in Social Psychology. She spent the next decade working for various publications, driving around the city, finding stories and learning its streets. She now lives in Goa.

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