x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

The Beautiful and the Damned: left in India's wake

Siddartha Deb's novel examines the country's modernisation, and the struggle of many of its citizens to adapt.

The Beautiful and the Damned
Siddhartha Deb
Penguin Viking
The Beautiful and the Damned Siddhartha Deb Penguin Viking Dh98

"Life in the New India" is the theme of Siddhartha Deb's first foray into non-fiction. As ambitious as it may sound, he narrows his observations down to the increasing emphasis of modernisation in a country where most of its citizens struggle to keep time with that very concept. It is a topic that has been explored by numerous media outlets but Deb's approach is hands-on enough to feel the dirt.

With a journalist's attention to detail coupled with a novelist's approach to reading between the lines that often blur cosmopolitan and rural India, Deb presents brief yet striking insights into the market forces that run the country. Not surprisingly, the ideals of business magnates and crop-seed dealers alike seem to be shot through with capitalist concerns.

While not an unfamiliar story to most in the region, Deb's research still manages to yield some startling finds. One of the most notable is the never-ending dilemmas presented in the life of migrant workers.

Though hardly a tale of horror, Deb's articulate work still packs a punch, making it a valuable addition to discussions on contemporary India.