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Nine Lives

Tomorrow’s NYT has a review of William Dalrymple’s new* book, Nine Lives: In Search of the Sacred in Modern India. Having read some other favorable reviews in recent weeks, I decided after reading this one that I should get the book. Thanks to the wonders of electronic books, I downloaded it from Amazon’s Kindle store tonight and was reading it outside on my iPad five minutes later.

I’ve hardly read enough to say anything meaningful. Perhaps later. At the least, it’s a welcome change from the spy thriller I finished last night (and wrote about earlier today). Let me quote a short passage from Colin Thubron’s NYT review to give a sense of what the book is about:

At a time when religion is becoming ever more conformist and intolerant, the diverse and syncretic world of the Indian subcontinent offers a stupefying spectrum of surviving sects and practices. These are the phenomena that slip between the cracks of an increasingly militant Hinduism in India and an extremist Islam in Pakistan. They are survivors from a more seductively various world: ascetics and mystics, mendicant singers and dancers, yogic initiates and outcasts.

From this multitude Dalrymple interviews nine very different individuals, four of them women, and sets their life stories in social and historical context.

*The book came out in the US last month, but it was published in the UK last fall, so it’s not entirely new.

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Categories: Books, Religion, Travel
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