India in Slow Motion – Mark Tully

I suddenly unearthed a treasure trove of travelogues in the Barbican library, and this was the first one I tackled, purely on the basis that I’d just returned from Indian and could/should have some views of my own against which to judge Mark Tully’s analysis.

That said, my week in northern India only allowed me the slightest exposure to Indian culture and customs, nothing on a par with Mark Tully’s years of experience borne of living and working as a journalist there.

The book is a dry read, but the arguments are well put and are accompanied by anecdotes that illustate the issues and events under discussion, from corruption, to poverty, to belief.

I’d recommend it to anyone who wants to try to understand how India is today, how it got there, and what its options might be for the future. You don’t have to visit to experience the frustration!

Buy it:Amazon link

One thought on “India in Slow Motion – Mark Tully”

  1. Hi Mary

    I found this a bit of a dry slog too.

    As far a s books on India go my all time fave is ‘Abdul’s Taxi to Kalighat’, Joe Roberts’ journal of his eventful time in Kolkata. It’s been out of print for ages but you could always borrow my copy. Joe comes over as a lovely bloke – as was proved true much later when he followed up my complimentary email by providing me with a dedicated copy (his last, actually) of his earlier, pretty well unavailable book on southern India.

    William Dalrymple’s two India books ‘City of Djinns: A Year in Delhi’ and ‘ The Age of Kali: Travels and Encounters in India’ are both excellent, detailed and exhaustively-researched books which are also a riveting read. I’d recommend them both although I’d stop short at the exhaustingly-researched ‘ White Mughals: Love and Betrayal in Eighteenth-century India’ unless you’re really into hardcoe historical detail. Great (true) story though.

    Suketu Mehta’s recent ‘Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found’ is a fabulous read too and gives one of the best views ever of modern India refracted throught the recent past. It’s a fast and furious ride and he pulls no punches – e.g. one of his hindu interviewees describes exactly what it’s like to set your muslim neighbour on fire.

    If you’ve ever been interested in the painful legacy of partition on families in modern Pakistan, Kamila Shamsie’s acclaimed novel ‘Kartography’ is a beautiful read. A finely-constructed story which also educates the reader isn’t always easy to pull off but she does it in spades here.

    And if you’ve been hankering for a very long artificial intelligence-based science fiction novel set in India fifty years into the future you couldn’t do any better than Ian McDonald’s ‘River of Gods’, just out in paperback.

    I guess that’s about a month’s reading in total, at which point you’ll probably be completely India’d out. But they are all good, and they’re all better than Tully too.

    Btw we once worked together, in the dotcom twilight otherwise known as Verticalnet 😉

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