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India Becoming: A Portrait of Life in Modern Indiaby Akash Kapur
Synopses & Reviews
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.
A New Republic Editors' and Writers' Pick 2012
A New Yorker Contributors' Pick 2012
A Newsweek "Must Read on Modern India"
For people who savored Katherine Boos Behind the Beautiful Forevers.”—Evan Osnos, newyorker.com
A portrait of the incredible change and economic development of modern India, and of social and national transformation there told through individual lives
Raised in India, and educated in the U.S., Akash Kapur returned to India in 2003 to raise a family. What he found was an ancient country in transition. In search of the life that he and his wife want to lead, he meets an array of Indians who teach him much about the realities of this changed country: an old landowner sees his rural village destroyed by real estate developments, and crime and corruption breaking down the feudal authority; a 21-year-old single woman and a 35-year-old divorcee exploring the new cultural allowances for women; and a young gay man coming to terms with his sexual identity something never allowed him a generation ago.
As Akash and his wife struggle to find the right balance between growth and modernity and the simplicity and purity they had known from the Indian countryside a decade ago, they ultimately find a country that has begun to dream.” But also one that may be moving away too quickly from the valuable ways in which it is different.
About the Author
Akash Kapur is the former "Letter from India" columnist for the International Herald Tribune and the online edition of The New York Times. He has also written for The Atlantic, The Economist, Granta, The New Yorker, and The New York Times. He holds a B.A. in social anthropology from Harvard, and a doctorate in law from Oxford University, which he attended as a Rhodes scholar. He lives outside Pondicherry, in southern India.
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