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The Beautiful and the Damned

A Portrait of the New India

This book can be downloaded and read in Apple Books on your Mac or iOS device.


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.

From Publishers Weekly

Jun 06, 2011 – Deb (The Point of No Return) offers a refreshingly skeptical rejoinder to the feel-good narratives of an ascendant India happily contributing to and benefiting from globalization. His mosaic of stories of striving, hopes dashed or realized, is more craggy, gritty, and realistic than the glossy accounts of information technology and free markets as benign, modernizing forces. 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 empowered and excluded... quick to express a sense of victimization, voicing their anger about being excluded from the elite while being callously indifferent to the truly impoverished." While his singling out the apparent opposites created by rapid social transformation, "visibility and invisibility, past and present, wealth and poverty, quietism and activism" isn't a new approach, his examples of how India is being "remade forcefully" and unevenly are insightful. Passing a police squad gunning for a Maoist rebel agitating for better conditions in a poor rural area, the author notes, "it was almost impossible not to give in to the pleasure of the new, smoothly tarred highway with its carefully demarcated lanes."
The Beautiful and the Damned
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  • $7.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Asia
  • Published: Aug 30, 2011
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Seller: Macmillan
  • Print Length: 272 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: This book can only be viewed on an iOS device with Apple Books on iOS 12 or later, iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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