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Arts Culture STEM Competition Wednesday 22nd May 2024 Industry Opinion Local Nations

Books That Bring the City of Mumbai to Life

2023

Author Reema Patel, known for her debut novel "Such Big Dreams," offers a selection of seven books that vividly capture the essence of Bombay, now known as Mumbai. The city, with its intricate charm and dynamic energy, has been a rich backdrop in numerous literary works, spanning fiction and non-fiction genres.

Suketu Mehta's nonfiction work, "Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found," provides a whirlwind exploration of Bombay, delving into the lives of diverse inhabitants, from bar dancers to politicians. The book offers social commentary on power, pleasure, corruption, and labor, portraying Bombay as a symbol of the Indian dream for many migrants.

"Narcopolis" by Jeet Thayil takes readers on a haunting journey through Bombay's opium culture, spanning from the 1970s to the recent past. The novel, presented in vignettes, explores the lives of characters like opium addicts, a eunuch named Dimple, and a poet-slash-artist, offering a glimpse into the city's seedy underbelly.

Aravind Adiga's "Last Man in Tower" unfolds a tale of ruthless urban development in Bombay, as a developer seeks to replace an old apartment building with a luxury high-rise tower. The novel exposes the harsh reality that virtually everything in Bombay is for sale, reflecting the continuous market's diversity and the city's complexities.

Set in the 1990s, Amrita Mahale's "Milk Teeth" delves into the changing dynamics of Bombay through the lens of two childhood friends. The narrative explores nostalgia, urbanization, and the quest for freedom in a city characterized by diverse communities.

Sonia Faleiro's non-fiction work, "Beautiful Thing: Inside the Secret World of Bombay’s Dance Bars," presents the life of Leela, an ambitious bar dancer. Faleiro navigates Leela's world, portraying the paradoxes of glamour and squalor, pleasure and pain, as she strives for a better life.

Katherine Boo's "Behind the Beautiful Forevers" offers a non-fiction account of life in Annawadi, a sprawling slum near the international airport. Boo sheds light on the challenges and complexities of poverty, avoiding romanticization or patronization.

Vikram Chandra's epic saga, "Sacred Games," unfolds the cat-and-mouse game between a police officer and a larger-than-life gangster in Bombay's gritty underworld. The novel, with its vibrant Bambaiya slang, serves as both a lesson on Indian post-colonial history and a love letter to the city.

Reema Patel, the author of "Such Big Dreams," introduces readers to a curated list of books that offer diverse perspectives on Bombay. Patel's personal connection to the city, reflected in her debut novel, adds a unique dimension to her recommendations.

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