Nine Lives by William Dalrymple
In Search of the Sacred in Modern India

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Synopsis

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 William Dalrymple

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William Dalrymple is the author of seven acclaimed works of history and travel, including City of Djinns, which won the Young British Writer of the Year Prize and the Thomas Cook Travel Book award; the bestselling From the Holy Mountain; White Mughals, which won Britain's most prestigious history prize, the Wolfson; and The Last Mughal, which won the Duff Cooper Prize for History and Biography. He divides his time between New Delhi and London, and is a contributor to The New York Review of Books, The New Yorker, and The Guardian.
 
Published June 9, 2010 by Vintage. 306 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Religion & Spirituality, Travel, Law & Philosophy, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Nine Lives

The New York Times

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A scholar of Indian history explores the diverse religious world of the subcontinent through the lives of nine remarkable individuals.

Jul 16 2010 | Read Full Review of Nine Lives: In Search of the ...

The Wall Street Journal

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India has long been an object of fascination for foreigners seeking spiritual enlightenment.

Nov 26 2009 | Read Full Review of Nine Lives: In Search of the ...

The Wall Street Journal

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In modern-day India, an astonishing variety of beliefs and rituals.

Jun 18 2010 | Read Full Review of Nine Lives: In Search of the ...

AV Club

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India's religious diversity in an era of increasing homogeneity provides a base of operations for this look at obscure religions.

Jul 22 2010 | Read Full Review of Nine Lives: In Search of the ...

The Telegraph

In the end the alchemy is perhaps meant to take place – .

Nov 12 2009 | Read Full Review of Nine Lives: In Search of the ...

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Sep 25 2009 | Read Full Review of Nine Lives: In Search of the ...

Red Room

In Nine Lives: In Search of the Sacred in Modern India, Dalrymple presents a mosaic of nine people whose experiences represent vastly different facets of Indian religious life.

Oct 04 2012 | Read Full Review of Nine Lives: In Search of the ...

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