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Harilal & Sons

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  95 ratings  ·  23 reviews
It is the year 1899. In the northwestern corner of British India, the Chhappaniya famine stalks the desert region of Shekhavati. A despairing shopkeeper turns to his young son and says, ‘This land has nothing to offer us but sand dunes and khejra bushes.’ Soon after, twelve-year-old Harilal Tibrewal, recently married to eleven-year-old Parmeshwari, sets off, alone, for the ...more
Paperback, 1st edition , 528 pages
Published March 7th 2017 by Speaking Tiger Books
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Rajat Ubhaykar
One of the best books I read this year! Review to follow soon.
Anushree Rastogi
Jul 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Much to be learnt here, from a socio-cultural and historical perspective. Extremely well written book. A very pleasant surprise.
Aritri Chatterjee
May 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
There have been endless number of books written about Indian post-colonial history from the perspectives of the British and occasionally the Bengalis. Mostly the Marwari community has been obscured out from these accounts. They have merely been present and never played any major role in securing independence for the country. Little has been written about them and hence the non-Marwari people were unaware of their counterparts’ sufferings and perils during the colonial rule of India. Sujit Saraf’ ...more
A Man Called Ove
Sep 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
3.5/5 How did us Marwadis fan out to all over India and take over trade ? This was a story that needed to be told and who better to tell it than Sujit Saraf - a Marwadi himself.
The first half of the book was superb. From life in Shekhawati, then in “Kalkatta” and finally “settling” down in Bogra (East Bengal) were beautifully detailed and engrossing.
However after the first half, it felt that the author lost his grip and only marriages and kids kept happening for the next 20% or so. Also, while
Jan 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Many Marwaris migrated out of Rajasthan in the past 100-150 years to build their fortunes in faraway land, carrying with them nothing but their faith in their ability to do a good trade and in their Lord almighty (mostly Ram Ji as he was the more reliable one). Many of them came to Kalkatta, which is what the city still is for a true-blue Marwari, which was then the capital of British India and a thriving market for all sorts of trade. That it was on the banks of Ganga and saw such abundance of ...more
Sep 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
A true immigrant story spanning across 90 odd years. As I was reading the book, at some point it dawned on me that while the characters, references, outlook on life are all through the lens of a bania and his family, the underlying theme is that of a man who leaves his home in search of prosperity, a better life for himself and his family.
He is surrounded by people very different from himself in terms of language, food, lifestyle, and belief system, but he tries to walk the line between accepti
Sumit Sharma
Jun 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
A book about community about life , about family and traditions and culture of one community , magnanimous
Marwaris the business man and the travellers
Aug 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
My first pick for the #discoveringindiareadathon and I was surprised at how beautiful this book turned out to be! 😍 #thebookishtalesreads
This is the story of Harilal Tibrewal, a boy from Rampura, Shekhawati, Rajasthan who migrates to Kalkatta, to the fertile plains of the East to escape the Chappaniya famine which had plagued Shekhawati. Apart from Harilal's story, we learn a lot about the history of Marwaris in Bengal who migrated there some 100-150 years ago and made it their home, a side of
Monideepa Sahu
May 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Delving into the history of his own family, the author has traced the amazing migrations of young men from the Marwari community of Rajasthan. Stories like this shed light on the Indian perspective during the heyday of the British Raj.

Harilal's journey in search of a shop and business to call his own, is fuelled by the time honoured spirit of the Marwari business community. As a little child of barely twelve years, Hari sets forth with a young Calcutta based trader of his village, to explore the
Harini Dedhia
Jul 24, 2018 rated it liked it
A light read that walks the reader through the story of a family that emigrated from Rajasthan to Bengal, the story of the protagonist that suffers from shifting goal posts in pursuit of happiness. The author charts a story of his family with vivid language making it an easy read. Not a compulsive page turner but the simplicity of the language and the effortlessness of the narrative make it a pleasant read.
Jitesh Kumar Singh
Feb 20, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: my-collection
One and Only thing relatable was a journey of life.... how it goes and ends.... It became monotonous sporadically and lost its grip now and then...... But for sure it made me feel the journey through desert and Rampur followed by Bogra the place near river karatoya ...... The book has also created a lot of confusion as there were number of characters to be followed till the end..... Overall just a nice reading.....
Kashish Mehta
Oct 13, 2018 rated it liked it
Really long with way too many characters. You need to read in a stretch to remember. More for ppl who want to know of old style businesses
Nausheen Rahman
Apr 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I bought “Harilal & Sons” by Sujit Saraf on a friend’s recommendation. The bulk of the book was initially daunting, but the blurbs were enticing - so I plunged in. I felt like I was reading a Victorian novel - and did not mind drowning.

This novel is a saga covering a very long period of time - 1899 to 1972. The protagonist is Harilal Tibrewal, a Marwari, modelled on Saraf’s grandfather, Hiralal Saraf. This man leaves the arid regions of Rajasthan and travels all the way to the fertile fields of
Siddharth Kejriwal
Aug 04, 2021 rated it it was amazing
A criminally underrated book that's written on a culture so widely popular, yet under-explored. The Marwari Culture emerged from the mass emigration of the community from various regions of Rajasthan, particularly Shekhawati in search of business opportunities. This book is one of the rare piece written on the region of Shekhawati and its people. Despite being a Fiction novel, it gets all the historical facts and events right, enough to elucidate on the historical development of the community th ...more
Dec 26, 2021 rated it really liked it
One of the best books I read this year, although with some effort. It is a long one and dragging in parts, but the payoff is good.
This book was given to me by my cousin and is written by a family relative who happens to be my grandfather as family trees go. The story itself is my great-great grandfathers.
The story of a marwadi boy moving from West to the east to set up his business and family is a typical one for our family and it was riveting to read about the journey of this boy who left home
Harilal & sons came into my bookshelf many years after I had read the peacock throne by Sujit Saraf.
While the peacock throne was contemporary (almost two decades ago) harilal and sone spans across a century and atleast a couple of generations and bring out the essence of the enterprising spirit of the thrifty marwari or baniya community that we know them as.
The story telling is straightforward and handled with sensitivity of a patriarch who values were defined in accordance with the times. The
Jan 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shades of The Good Earth, Indian style.
During British times, many a Marwari family travelled the long road from the dunes and droughts of Rajasthan (in particular the super dry Marwar region) to Calcutta and other cities of Bengal and settled successful businesses; as Bengalis were usually not known for business savvy.
This book traces the family saga of such a family of traders; sweeping across generations from 1899 to 1972; from the perspective of the patriarch Harilal Tibrewala.
Am definitely
Aug 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A semi-fictional depiction of a self made Marwari man as Raamji gives and takes across his generations, his conservative mindset clashing with the changing world around him and documentary of an India, specifically Bengal from pre Independence to when Bangladesh is created. This is good Indian literature with insight into a common man's perspective to life in that era with minimal political bearings. There is very little material out there on Marwaris as a community and this book does some justi ...more
Gaurav Agarwal
May 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Being a Marwari, whose Grandfather left Rajasthan for Calcutta and prospered, reading Harilal and Sons felt almost like reading the history of my own family. It was relatable beyond imagintion. The book does justice to the marwari community for having portrayed their passion for business and their interesting lives in such a detailed manner.
Nallasivan V.
Aug 29, 2021 rated it really liked it
A sweeping novel that puts into perspective the Marwari community's history within the broader context of Indian sub continent history. What I especially loved about it was how Saraf remains truthful to the time, people and context without being judgemental. ...more
Rajesh Mohta
Jan 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
awesome book on the migration of marwadis from Rajasthan to Bengal, bihar and Assam in early 20th century.
must read for all marwadi banias, how easy the life is for us now and how they coped and the business and family values they followed
Manoj Solanki
May 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Very well written. I can read it again.
Aug 19, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Indeed a must-read and a lucky that I chanced upon it. I must say here that it's unfortunate that lesser books by famous authors are easily accessed, while gems such as this one are chance discoveries.

I especially liked the beginning and the end, and the authenticity - the places, language, and recreating the period. The only drawback - if I may call it that - is the excessive dwelling on the extremely complex family and drama of children, grandchildren, and grand grandchildren, when the author
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Aug 27, 2017
Harshita Jhunjhunwala
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May 07, 2018
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Sujit Saraf received an engineering degree from IIT Delhi and a Ph.D. from Berkeley. He has conducted research for NASA, taught at IIT and worked as a space scientist in California. When not at his desk, he runs Naatak, an Indian theatre company in America for which he writes and directs plays and films.

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