Tag Archive > New Delhi

Literary Trip to Delhi

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I first discovered the joys of reading books about a city whilst in situ when I sat in a hotel room in Mumbai with two books in front of me – a local guidebook and Leslie Forbes’ great thriller “Bombay Ice“. Without question I learned a lot more about the city from the novel than I ever could have done from the guidebook. Ever since that time I’ve tried to find books about the cities I love – and top of that list, the place I return to time and time again is Delhi.

Bahai Lotus Temple, DelhiThe must-read novel for anyone interested in this city is “Delhi: A Novel” by the great Indian writer Khushwant Singh. It’s definitely one for the less prudish reader as it gets a bit racy by Indian standards and you could be forgiven for thinking that his hero, another Mr Singh, appears to sleep with just about everyone he meets.

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A Black Englishman

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A Black Englishman By Carolyn SlaughterA Black Englishman‘ is the tale of a British girl, Isabel Webb, who marries a soldier, goes out to India and breaks all the taboos by falling in love with a local man. It’s set in the 1920s, a time when Indians had come to believe that Independence might come their way in the aftermath of the First World War but the British just weren’t ready to let go. The book touches on some of the key events of the Independence movement but in such an oblique way that if you don’t already know about those events, such as the Jallianwallahbagh Massacre, you wouldn’t necessarily be any the wiser for reading this book.

Isabel throws herself into the relationship with an astonishing degree of recklessness, heading off to Shimla, the most gossipy place in British India, to spend time with her lover, dressing in saris and pretending to be a local. Once the lovers are inevitably ‘rumbled’ by an officer who catches them together, there’s sure to be plenty of trouble as they attempt to find a way to reconcile their relationship with their personal situations.

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