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City of Djinns: A Year in Delhi

City of Djinns: A Year in Delhi

Paperback

By (author) William Dalrymple

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  • Publisher: Flamingo
  • Format: Paperback | 352 pages
  • Dimensions: 132mm x 194mm x 24mm | 259g
  • Publication date: 1 May 1996
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 0006375952
  • ISBN 13: 9780006375951
  • Illustrations note: 15 b/w illus
  • Sales rank: 24,023

Product description

'Could you show me a djinn?' I asked. 'Certainly,' replied the Sufi. 'But you would run away.' From the author of the Samuel Johnson prize shortlisted 'The Return of a King', this is William Dalrymple's captivating memoir of a year spent in Delhi, a city watched over and protected by the mischievous invisible djinns. Lodging with the beady-eyed Mrs Puri and encountering an extraordinary array of characters - from elusive eunuchs to the last remnants of the Raj - William Dalrymple comes to know the bewildering city intimately. He pursues Delhi's interlacing layers of history along narrow alleys and broad boulevards, brilliantly conveying its intoxicating mix of mysticism and mayhem. 'City of Djinns' is an astonishing and sensitive portrait of a city, and confirms William Dalrymple as one of the most compelling explorers of India's past and present.

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Author information

William Dalrymple's first book, 'In Xanadu', won the Yorkshire Post Best First Work Award and the Scottish Arts Council Spring Book Award. His third, 'From the Holy Mountain', won the Scottish Arts Council Autumn Book Award and was shortlisted for the 1998 Thomas Cook Award. His fourth, 'The Age of Kali', was published in November 1998. He is the youngest Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, and has written and presented a six-part series on the buildings of the Raj for Channel 4.

Review quote

'Delightful ... Surely one of the funniest books about India' Times Literary Supplement 'Scholarly and marvellously entertaining ... a considerable feat' Dervla Murphy, Spectator 'Dalrymple has pulled it off again' Jan Morris, Independent

Editorial reviews

A charming portrait of the ancient Indian capital of Delhi by a talented young British travel writer. Dalrymple, whose debut book of travel writing, In Xanadu (not reviewed), received much praise, spent a year wandering around the dilapidated city of Delhi uncovering the layers of history found in its architectural and human ruins. With his wife, Olivia Fraser (whose pen-and-ink illustrations help the book along), Dalrymple finds a Delhi that is still trying to overcome the traumas of British colonialism and the partition of 1947, in which most Muslims migrated from India to the newly created Pakistan and many Hindus, expelled from the Punjab, fled to Delhi, creating a new, less sophisticated class of resident. The title refers to the spirits that according to legend have, throughout the ages, watched over the inhabitants of Delhi. At first, Dalrymple finds that much of the old life, including the belief in djinns, seems to have faded; but after some digging, he learns that these old customs are simply hidden and very much alive. Judiciously parceling out strands of Indian history, Dalrymple shows that the unique Delhi ways have always been able to withstand the worst of wars and other calamities. He takes us, in an affable style, through the sprawling city and introduces us to the frugal Punjabi people who now make up the majority of the population, as well as to the remnants of the old colonialists, and then to the fascinating ways of people of the underbelly - the sad, regimented lives of contemporary eunuchs, the tenacity of the squatters, and the timeless world of the many religions that have quietly coexisted for centuries in the chaotic warrens of the indestructible city. Not a heavyweight experience, but this warm look at Delhi is a pleasant starting point for anyone interested in this mysterious city. (Kirkus Reviews)