The Beautiful and the Damned by Siddhartha Deb
A Portrait of the New India

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Synopsis

A Globe and Mail Best Books of the Year 2011 Title


Siddhartha Deb grew up in a remote town in the northeastern hills of India and made his way to the United States via a fellowship at Columbia. Six years after leaving home, he returned as an undercover reporter for The Guardian, working at a call center in Delhi in 2004, a time when globalization was fast proceeding and Thomas L. Friedman declared the world flat. Deb's experience interviewing the call-center staff led him to undertake this book and travel throughout the subcontinent.


The Beautiful and the Damned examines India's many contradictions through various individual and extraordinary perspectives. With lyrical and commanding prose, Deb introduces the reader to an unforgettable group of Indians, including a Gatsby-like mogul in Delhi whose hobby is producing big-budget gangster films that no one sees; a wiry, dusty farmer named Gopeti whose village is plagued by suicides and was the epicenter of a riot; and a sad-eyed waitress named Esther who has set aside her dual degrees in biochemistry and botany to serve Coca-Cola to arms dealers at an upscale hotel called Shangri La.


Like no other writer, Deb humanizes the post-globalization experience--its advantages, failures, and absurdities. India is a country where you take a nap and someone has stolen your job, where you buy a BMW but still have to idle for cows crossing your path. A personal, narrative work of journalism and cultural analysis in the same vein as Adrian Nicole LeBlanc's Random Family and V. S. Naipaul's India series, The Beautiful and the Damned is an important and incisive new work.


The Beautiful and the Damned is a Publishers Weekly Best Nonfiction title for 2011.

 

About Siddhartha Deb

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Siddhartha Deb, who teaches creative writing at the New School, is the author of two novels: The Point of Return, which was a 2003 New York Times Notable Book of the Year, and An Outline of the Republic. His reviews and journalism have appeared in The Boston Globe, The Guardian, Harper's Magazine, The Nation, New Statesman, n+1, and The Times Literary Supplement.
 
Published August 30, 2011 by Faber & Faber. 276 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Political & Social Sciences, Travel. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Beautiful and the Damned

Kirkus Reviews

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He puts a human face on horrific statistics that are so large as to be incomprehensible—e.g., from 2004 to 2005, “the last year for which data was available, the total number of people in India consuming less than 20 rupees (or 50 cents) a day was 836 million – or 77 percent of the population.” T...

Jun 15 2011 | Read Full Review of The Beautiful and the Damned:...

The New York Times

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Chaudhuri, who had mused in 1951 that in India, “so vast and so populous, the individuals who form the exceptions may well run into millions.” How then do you write about India, where the remarkable can be faulted for being unrepresentative of the country, and where the unremarkable, while thorou...

Sep 16 2011 | Read Full Review of The Beautiful and the Damned:...

The Guardian

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The inversions enshrined in the sentences I've quoted mirror the ambiguities of Deb's India, and point to what makes his vision of it instructive: his India is not home to some miraculously resilient Indian identity, but a place of role-playing and performances.

Jun 04 2011 | Read Full Review of The Beautiful and the Damned:...

Publishers Weekly

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He follows various individuals—a community activist, a dubiously credentialed salesman, a struggling provincial waitress both liberated and hemmed in by her life in New Delhi—as some of the millions of Indians who've flung themselves headlong into their nation's transformation and "feel both ...

Jun 06 2011 | Read Full Review of The Beautiful and the Damned:...

The Wall Street Journal

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Subtitled 'A Portrait of the New India," Siddhartha Deb's book treads on the heels of Patrick French's "India: A Portrait" and Anand Giridharadas's "India Calling: an Intimate Portrait of a Nation's Remaking."

Oct 15 2011 | Read Full Review of The Beautiful and the Damned:...

Star Tribune

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Siddhartha Deb is a marvelous participatory journalist, a keen observer of contemporary India.

Sep 10 2011 | Read Full Review of The Beautiful and the Damned:...

The Bookbag

Summary: Although this book is about modern-day India and her people, Deb chooses to concentrate on only five individuals.

Jul 24 2011 | Read Full Review of The Beautiful and the Damned:...

The New Yorker

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Nov 14 2011 | Read Full Review of The Beautiful and the Damned:...

The Wall Street Journal

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Subtitled 'A Portrait of the New India," Siddhartha Deb's book treads on the heels of Patrick French's "India: A Portrait" and Anand Giridharadas's "India Calling: an Intimate Portrait of a Nation's Remaking."

Oct 15 2011 | Read Full Review of The Beautiful and the Damned:...

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