The Ascetic of Desire by Sudhir Kakar

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The debut novel about the roots of desire and the enigmatic author of the Kama Sutra that is also an international sensation, with rights sold in six countries

The Kama Sutra is the most widely read treatise on sex ever written, while the man who chronicled all there was to experience between men and women remains a mystery. In The Ascetic of Desire, Sudhir Kakar tells the story of its author, Vatsayana, and his times--the fourth century A.D., considered the golden age of Indian history--in a way that promises to make this debut novel a major literary event.

In Kakar's masterful account, we see Vatsayana through the eyes of his pupil, the son of a Brahmin scholar who is embarking on his first exploration of the sensual life. Vatsayana recounts his own life to the young man, including a childhood spent largely in the brothel where his favorite aunt worked. There Vatsayana gained his first, indelible impressions of sexual artifice and the arousal of desire. Side by side with the unfolding of Vatsayana's life is the story of a young man's coming of age. And at the point where their stories intersect, the unexpected happens.

Like Arthur Golden's Memoirs of a Geisha, Sudhir Kakar's novel is a startling combination of psychological insight and historical background. With rights already sold in six countries, The Ascetic of Desire is the novel people will be talking about this spring.

About Sudhir Kakar

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Wendy Doniger is Mircea Eliade Distinguished Service Professor of the History of Religions, University of Chicago. She is the author of The Bedtrick: Tales of Sex and Masquerade and Siva, The Erotic Ascetic. Sudhir Kakar is Senior Fellow at the Center for the Study of World Religions at HarvardUniversity. He is the author of Shamans, Mystics and Doctors: A Psychological Inquiry into India and Its Healing Traditions.
Published January 1, 1998 by Viking. 309 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction, Erotica. Fiction

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Publishers Weekly

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This lushly sensual and thoughtful debut novel by New Delhi psychoanalyst Kakar was inspired by the mysterious Vatsayana who wrote the Kama Sutra sex manual between the first and sixth centuries of the present era.

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BC Books

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Sep 30 2005 | Read Full Review of The Ascetic of Desire

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