Nine Lives

In Search of the Sacred in Modern India

By William Dalrymple
(Knopf Publishing Group, Hardcover, 9780307272829, 275pp.)

Publication Date: June 15, 2010

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Description
From the author of "The Last Mughal" ("A compulsively readable masterpiece" --"The New York Review of Books"), an exquisite, mesmerizing book that illuminates the remarkable ways in which traditional forms of religious life in India have been transformed in the vortex of the region's rapid change--a book that distills the author's twenty-five years of travel in India, taking us deep into ways of life that we might otherwise never have known exist.
A Buddhist monk takes up arms to resist the Chinese invasion of Tibet--and spends the rest of his life atoning for the violence by hand printing the finest prayer flags in India . . . A Jain nun tests her powers of detachment as she watches her closest friend ritually starve herself to death . . . A woman leaves her middle-class life in Calcutta and finds unexpected fulfillment living as a Tantric in an isolated, skull-filled cremation ground . . . A prison warder from Kerala is worshipped as an incarnate deity for three months of every year . . . An idol carver, the twenty-third in a long line of sculptors, must reconcile himself to his son's desire to study computer engineering . . . An illiterate goatherd from Rajasthan keeps alive in his memory an ancient four-thousand-stanza sacred epic . . . A temple prostitute, who initially resisted her own initiation into sex work, pushes both her daughters into a trade she nonetheless regards as a sacred calling.
William Dalrymple chronicles these lives with expansive insight and a spellbinding evocation of circumstance. And while the stories reveal the vigorous resilience of individuals in the face of the relentless onslaught of modernity, they reveal as well the continuity of ancient traditions that endure to this day. A dazzling travelogue of both place and spirit.



About the Author
William Dalrymple was born in Scotland and brought up on the shores of the Firth of Forth. When he was twenty-two he wrote the highly acclaimed bestseller "In Xanadu," which was shortlisted for the John Llewellyn Rhys Memorial Prize. In 1989 Dalrymple moved to Delhi where he lived for six years researching his second book, "City of Djinns," which won the 1994 Thomas Cook Travel Book Award and the "Sunday Times" Young British Writer of the Year Award.
He is married to the artist Olivia Fraser, and they have three children. They now divide their time between London and Delhi.


NPR
Thursday, Jun 24, 2010

In his latest book, British journalist William Dalrymple profiles nine Indian religious devotees -- from a Jain nun, to an idol carver, to a Buddhist monk. Nine Lives surveys the subcontinent's rich religious topography by focusing on individual journeys of personal faith. More at NPR.org

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