India Becoming by Akash Kapur
A Portrait of Life in Modern India

50%

8 Critic Reviews

Kapur's own feelings about his native country tend to get overwhelmed by bland nostalgia, but fortunately, to make his point, Kapur focuses on recounting the stories of a wide range of characters he encountered during his research.
-Publishers Weekly

Synopsis

A New Republic Editors' and Writers' Pick 2012

A New Yorker Contributors' Pick 2012

A portrait of incredible change and economic development, of social and national transformation told through individual lives

The son of an Indian father and an American mother, Akash Kapur spent his formative years in India and his early adulthood in the United States. In 2003, he returned to his birth country for good, eager to be part of its exciting growth and modernization. What he found was a nation even more transformed than he had imagined, where the changes were fundamentally altering Indian society, for better and sometimes for worse.

To further understand these changes, he sought out the Indians experiencing them firsthand. The result is a rich tapestry of lives being altered by economic development, and a fascinating insider's look at many of the most important forces shaping our world today. Much has been written about the rise of Asia and a rebalancing of the global economy, but rarely does one encounter these big stories with the level of nuance and detail that Kapur gives us in India Becoming.

Among the characters we meet are a broker of cows who must adapt his trade to a modernizing economy; a female call center employee whose relatives worry about her values in the city; a feudal landowner who must accept that he will not pass his way of life down to his children; and a career woman who wishes she could "outsource" having a baby.

Through these stories and many others, Kapur provides a fuller understanding of the complexity and often contradictory nature of modern India. India Becoming is particularly noteworthy for its emphasis on rural India-a region often neglected in writing about the country, though 70 percent of the population still lives there. In scenes reminiscent of R. K. Narayan's classic works on the Indian countryside, Kapur builds intimate portraits of farmers, fishermen, and entire villages whose ancient ways of life are crumbling, giving way to an uncertain future that is at once frightening and full of promise. Kapur himself grew up in rural India; his descriptions of change and modernization are infused with a profound-at times deeply poignant- firsthand understanding of the loss that must accompany all development and progress.

India Becoming is essential reading for anyone interested in our changing world and the newly emerging global order. It is a riveting narrative that puts the personal into a broad, relevant and revelational context.

 

About Akash Kapur

See more books from this Author
AKASH KAPUR is the former “Letter from India” columnist for the NYTimes.com and the International Herald Tribune. He has also written for The Atlantic, The Economist, Granta, The New Yorker, and The New York Times Book Review. He lives outside Pondicherry, in South India.
 
Published March 15, 2012 by Riverhead Books. 333 pages
Genres: History, Business & Economics, Political & Social Sciences, Travel. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for India Becoming
All: 8 | Positive: 3 | Negative: 5

Kirkus

Excellent
Feb 15 2012

An honest, conflicted glimpse of a country “still sorting through the contradictions of a rapid, and inevitably messy, transformation.”

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NY Times

Excellent
Reviewed by Geoffrey C. Ward on May 25 2012

...Kapur is at his best when writing about what is happening out in the country, where he has chosen to live. Gandhi once said the soul of India was to be found in its villages.

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Publishers Weekly

Below average
Mar 05 2012

Kapur's own feelings about his native country tend to get overwhelmed by bland nostalgia, but fortunately, to make his point, Kapur focuses on recounting the stories of a wide range of characters he encountered during his research.

Read Full Review of India Becoming : A Portrait o... | See more reviews from Publishers Weekly

Financial Times

Excellent
Reviewed by David Pilling on Mar 11 2012

The novelistic approach allows for these changes of mood and perspective.

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The Economist

Below average
Mar 03 2012

At times he appears confused, for example saying that India is “one of the most ardently capitalist countries in the world”, but later quoting a friend who more accurately describes its “relatively controlled brand of capitalism”.

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The New Republic

Below average
Reviewed by Alexandra Mehta on Mar 28 2012

After reading Kapur’s impassioned indictment of India’s trash problem I couldn’t be convinced by palliative sentiments such as, “I held on to all that was good, all the reasons I had moved to India—and all the reasons I had for staying …” or “on bad days … I would remember the good days.”

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S. Krishna's Books

Below average
Reviewed by Swapna Krishna on Mar 18 2012

His voice is steady, guiding the reader through the pages, so though the book’s overarching narrative thread is weak, he never loses the reader’s attention.

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Sophisticated Dorkiness

Below average
Reviewed by Kim on Apr 11 2012

Each chapter reads more like an essay on a particular topic of India’s transformation, and they don’t necessarily feel cohesive.

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Mohit Aggarwal 5 Sep 2013

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