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We That Are Young

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  177 Ratings  ·  38 Reviews
The story of a billionaire family dynasty, led by a gold-plated madman, stewed in corruption, mired in violence, riven by infighting, deception and lies… The resonances will be there for anyone who knows King Lear - not to mention anyone struggling to come to terms with the new world order - from the rise of the religious right wing in India to the Trump dynasty in the Uni ...more
Paperback, 553 pages
Published August 10th 2017 by Galley Beggar Press
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Paul Fulcher
Now deservedly shortlisted for the Desmond Elliot Prize, alongside the outstanding shortlist for the 2017 Republic of Consciousness Prize for 'gorgeous prose and hardcore literary fiction' from small, independent presses.

Edgar: The weight of this sad time we must obey.
Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say.
The oldest hath borne most. We that are young
Shall never see so much, nor live so long.

King Lear, Act 5 Scene 3

Postscript to my review: Disappointed this missed out on the Booker, part
Mar 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Update 21/6/18. Now the well-deserved winner of the Desmond Elliott Prize 2018. Congratulations to Preti Taneja and all at Galley Beggar.

This vibrant, epic, ambitious transplantation of King Lear to modern India is by far the longest book on the Republic of Consciousness Prize shortlist, and looks a potential winner. Taneja keeps the essential elements of the familiar Shakespeare version of the story in place, but allows herself plenty of scope to explore the issues, extremes of wealth and pove
Gumble's Yard

Galley Beggar Press is a small publisher responsible which aims to produce and support beautiful books and a vibrant, eclectic, risk-taking range of literature and which declares an aim to publish books that are hardcore literary fiction and gorgeous prose – a description which has been taken as the criteria for the Republic Of Consciousness prize.

Jonathan Pool
Jan 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
We That Are Young has a feel to it that's not dissimilar to Salman Rushdie's recent, 2017, novel, The Golden House. That's praise. Both novels ultimately revolve around a big figure, a patriarch, who is revealed to be rather less worthy of the adulation that his status and visibility might indicate. Preti Taneja's Devraj Bapuji to Rushdie's Nero Golden.
Both books shine a spotlight on an India of the latter 20th century, far removed from the deference or degradation (depending on your viewpoint)
Jul 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017, 2018-rofc, 2018

We That Are Young is published by Galley Beggar Press. Perhaps best known as the publisher that took the risk on A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing after everyone else had rejected it (it went on to win the Women’s Prize for Fiction), Galley Beggar Press is also the publisher of the wonderful Forbidden Line that I read earlier this year and which remains one of the most unusual books I have read in 2017.

My thanks to Gall
Jackie Law
Jul 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
We that are young, by Preti Taneja, is a fabulous reworking of King Lear. Having enjoyed a number of adaptations of this Shakespearean tragedy on stage I was familiar with the direction the arc of the story was likely to take. This did not in any way detract from my enjoyment. The book is big in size, scope and depth. The action is set in modern India and offers a masterclass in the country, its people, and the stubborness and hurt inherent in wider family feuds.

The tale opens with the return of
Inderjit Sanghera
Nov 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A modern day re-telling of "King Lear", 'We Are That Young' is a brilliant exploration of greed, corruption and vice in modern India. The novel follows the aristocrat-cum-royal family of Devraj; a patriarch whose puissance dissolves once he cedes ownership of his company to his elder daughters, Garghi and Radha, only to rise, ephemerally, like a phoenix, in a haze of self-righteous indignation against the corruption inherent in the company he set-up, riding a wife of populism based on deep-seate ...more
Viv JM
3.5 stars, rounded up for its audacity

"We That Are Young" is a retelling of Shakespeare's King Lear, set in India at the time of the anti-corruption riots (2011). It is creative and compelling but the writing made me feel rather feverish and discombobulated - I think this had a lot to do with the large amounts of untranslated Hindu interspersed throughout.

There were certainly moments of genius here, but I do think that (at over 500 pages) this book might have benefited from more ruthless editi
Oct 04, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This should have been right smack dab in my wheelhouse, given my penchant for both Indian lit and Shakespeare (it's a modern retelling of Lear)... but I must say, despite some gorgeous prose, I found it for the most part rather tedious and almost gave up halfway through. In need of much judicious editing (the inciting incident of the patriarch's division of his spoils doesn't even occur into well over 100 pages into this LONG 553 pages!), I was also more than a little annoyed by the miniscule pr ...more
Aug 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
Shelves: wrote-it

We That Are Young by Preti Taneja

This spirited debut, one of the year’s most original novels, is an exquisite retelling of King Lear set in modern New Delhi
Review by Alexander Nurnberg

The Sunday Times, August 6 2017, 12:01am

Whoever was asked to write the blurb for Preti Taneja’s novel We That Are Young must have faced something of a quandary: when, or how (perhaps, even, whether) to reveal that it is a retelling of King Lear.

You can understand the problem. How best to acknowledge the ingenuity o
Chris Chapman
Aug 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: zz-yr-2018
Has now won the Desmond Elliott prize. Richly deserved!

How to do justice to the ambition of this book? My favourite character was Jeet and I think he embodies its incredible scope. In fact he seems to spend the length of the book trying to work out who he is. At first this translates into a passion for using his father's wealth to con uneducated villagers out of priceless antiquities, and this could be seen as shameless opportunism and exploitation. But I don't think it's a coincidence that the
Feb 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
This sprawling tragic novel about a billionaire Indian family based on Shakespeare's King Lear is full of madness, corruption, murder, and deceit. Like Arundhati Roy's The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, the setting is largely Delhi and Kashmir. Taneja does an excellent job portraying modern-day India's new rich, the country's economic turmoil, and all its walks of life.
Kasa Cotugno
This is the second "Lear" I've read in about a year, and while Dunbar, the Hogarth update version, written by Edward St. Aubyn was closer in tone to the original, this one, set in India was a more in depth rendering. I learned more about New Delhi rituals and customs, which slowed the progress of the narrative, and it could have been trimmed here and there. But the bones were present and made for pleasurable analysis.
Sep 17, 2017 rated it it was ok
Almost literal application of King Lear to an Indian Company situation with family ownerships. But it is hard to replicate the same level of conspiracy, intrigue and killings in an Indian Company Boardroom context and that is the biggest chink in the story. Most plot points feel contrived, and some laugh-out-loud ridiculous. Using a Shakespeare tragedy to tell a story isn't all that new, and many have done a great job of it. Rohinton Mistry in Family Matters, Vishal Bhardwaj's movies for instanc ...more
Aditya Vijaykumar
3.5. That took pretty long. Preti Taneja's prose is beautiful and layered, which suits an adaptation of King Lear. Unfortunately, her characters are not consistent. I had this feeling that the male characters were very weakly written. The women in the book are brilliant though, so layered and conflict-filled that you cannot help but love them.

And maybe this is just me, but I expected much more from the climax. It seemed too serendipitous to me.
I’m just not lidderary enough for this one.

A [2] average is the best compromise as my rating sense ranged from [1] to [3].

It was a real challenge to read and finish this book and I was proceeding for only 10 or so pages a day for the longest time. There were only brief segments that were compelling enough to get through more. I still find it an interesting exercise to try to define what my problems were, even if they might only be my own and no one else’s.

Structure and Pacing
The book is di
Oct 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
We that are young is ambitious. So very ambitious, and so very good.

Most strikingly it’s a thorough and impressive academic exercise, but it’s also a great story, engrossingly told, a refreshing study of female sexuality and the male perception of it, and a Trainspotting-esque seminal moment in literature for young, wealthy Indians. And that’s not even mentioning the writing, which, by the way, is shockingly good.

This is a novel to spend a good amount of time with. It’s long already, before you
Sadiq Kazi
An adaptation of King Lear set in the early 2010s India that meanders on and on at times, and yet hides within it some brilliant writing.
Mar 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There are so many good reviews of this book that it seems pointless me writing one, except to say why I liked it so much.
The characters and story closely follow Shakespeare's "King Lear", with the kingdom replaced by a large Indian company (think of something with the scope of Tata). In the play there are good and bad characters and Lear's descent into madness, which are echoed in the book. The main addition to the book is that the 'bad' characters are given more of a back story, we get to see t
Lady R
Sep 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
4.5 reviews.
I loved this one... review to follow.
Tawseef Khan
Jul 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is such a phenomenal novel; ambitious and far-reaching in its scope and themes, exceptional prose, compelling characters that do and say things you couldn't even imagine, and above all, a haunting portrait of the 'real India'. Do read it, you won't be disappointed.
Feb 26, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
A great book can be great at different levels, but a bad one doesn’t have that luxury. Mislaid by all the hype and praise from western critics made me pick up this book. Probably this is the worst book I read in a long time. Pathetic plotting, miserable attempt at adapting King Lear in Indian context, lack of real knowledge on the subcontinent is so evident. I got migraine by constant feel of something getting drilled into my brain. I hardly write reviews, but this time thought that it was my re ...more
Jul 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
On the evening of the 20th June The Winner of the 2018 Desmond Elliot Prize was announced in front of a packed invited audience with many more following via social media. This year’s winner was incredible We That Are Young (Galley Beggar Press) the debut novel by Preti Taneja set to the backdrop of contemporary India but this is no ordinary story but one with Shakespeare’s King Lear at its heart.

Weighing in at over 500 pages this is by no means your average novel yet once I turned the first pag
Alexander Highfield
May 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Fans of: Feminism, Shakespeare, Writing about India, Literary Fiction
The book is a hefty 553 pages but more often than not I found it extremely difficult to put down. It is a gripping story about a hotelier dynasty in present day India which parallels Shakespeare’s King Lear.

I was surprised at just how closely Taneja parallels Shakespeare’s play but the beauty of her prose, and it’s swiftness, ensured that I was never bored by the novel – I found myself anticipating how the next plot turn would happen as eagerly as someone unfamiliar with the play might anticipa
Kristen Harrison
Jan 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What a read. This book is like a tightly woven tapestry, interweaving cultural and literary worlds with great depth, and leaving plenty of frayed edges! I was instantly drawn into its murky tale of Indian aristocracy and was particularly impressed by the female characters, they owned this novel for me.

The interlacing of Hindi was also brilliantly done. I saw another reviewer comment that he needed to run away and google it but I think that misses the point. For the most part it's used in such a
Jul 12, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018, duty-finish
Despite the huge ambition and expansive vision of this book, the story ultimately didn't grab me. That might be due to the fact that I'm not really familiar with the play, but I found the plot a little contrived and lagging. It also didn't feel as if the novel's action truly called for a lenght of 500+ pages. The novel's strucutre of giving five characters a long part to narrate also didn't speed the story along, some voices read much more enjoyable than others.
However, contrary to many other r
Elizabeth Smith
Jun 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the best books I’ve ever read. It is ambitious, wonderfully written and, dare I say it, I preferred this version to Shakespeare’s.

The book is a rewrite of King Lear set in India, but goes so much further than the text it is based on. The characters are wonderfully rich and sympathetic; despite some of the horrendous things they do there is always some sympathy for them and a believable motivation for their actions.

It is so difficult to do justice to this book in a short review,
Jul 16, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
I'm reminded of the scene in Amadeus where the Austrian Emperor advises Mozart that he has used "too many notes" in his latest symphony. I ran out of steam around two-thirds of the way through and had to push through the pain to reach the finish line.

Everything you need to know about Millennial India, set against a backdrop of King Lear, re-worked as the story of a super-rich family.

If you are of a sensitive disposition you will find some of the scenes and the language disturbing.

It felt to me t
Steve Walsh
Jul 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Another stunning book from Galley Beggar Press. Preto Taneja takes us to the world of an Indian super-dynasty. The story is told through the eyes of the five daughters and nephews of the increasingly deranged head of one of India’s largest industrial corporations. The business has been built on the back of the old ways of back-handers and corruption, but the youngsters have different ideas about bringing it up to date. Three modern Indian women, two modern Indian men, a web of love, lies and mad ...more
Jul 27, 2018 rated it liked it
A 3,5 – I did like many things about it, especially the understanding it has for all of its flawed protagonists (except Bapuji/Lear, interestingly!), and I did like the ending. But somehow the Shakespearean everyone-dies doesn't really fit the modern Indian setting and the jaded and spoilt characters – realistically, they would have stayed alive and kept tormenting each other.
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The Mookse and th...: 2018 RoC Shortlist: We That Are Young 68 56 Apr 27, 2018 03:19PM  


Sarah Perry, chair of judges, said:

“Samira, Chris and myself were absolutely unanimous in our love and admiration for this novel, whose scope, ambition, skill and wisdom was, quite simply, awe-inspiring … all three of us sat together, shaking our heads, saying, ‘If this is her first novel, what extraordinary work will come next?’”

More about Preti Taneja

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