BookBrowse Reviews Nine Lives by William Dalrymple

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Nine Lives

In Search of the Sacred in Modern India

By William Dalrymple

Nine Lives
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  • Hardcover: Jun 2010,
    304 pages.
    Paperback: Jun 2011,
    304 pages.

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Book Reviewed by:
Jo Perry

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A mesmerizing book that illuminates the remarkable ways in which traditional forms of religious life in India have been transformed by the region's rapid change

Nine Lives is a stunning, affecting study of human aspiration and goodness. But despite the jacket blurbs, this isn't really "travel writing." As Dalrymple moves through India's "sacred topography," he assembles the biographies of nine people whose lives intersect with the divine. Although contemporary India is always present  (a shaman listens to a soccer game on a transistor radio from his hut on a bone-strewn cremation plot), Nine Lives immerses the reader in an India of "sacred time" where the contemporary meets the times, gods are present in nature - and art, song, wandering, military service - even prostitution - express spiritual striving, devotion, humility, love and hope.

The nine stories are surprising, shocking, grotesque, lovely, and supported by pertinent and interesting history and background information (literacy erodes the capacity to memorize epic...

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