Nine Lives: In Search of the Sacred in Modern India

Nine Lives: In Search of the Sacred in Modern India

Hardback

By (author) William Dalrymple

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  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
  • Format: Hardback | 304 pages
  • Dimensions: 160mm x 234mm x 28mm | 540g
  • Publication date: 5 October 2009
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 1408800616
  • ISBN 13: 9781408800614
  • Illustrations note: B&W Inserts
  • Sales rank: 92,848

Product description

A Buddhist monk takes up arms to resist the Chinese invasion of Tibet - then spends the rest of his life trying to atone for the violence by hand printing the best prayer flags in India. A Jain nun tests her powers of detachment as she watches her best friend ritually starve to death. A woman leaves her middle-class family in Calcutta, and her job in a jute factory, only to find unexpected love and fulfilment living as a Tantric skull feeder in a remote cremation ground. A prison warden from Kerala becomes, for two months of the year, a temple dancer and is worshipped as a deity; then, at the end of February each year, he returns to prison. An illiterate goat herd from Rajasthan keeps alive an ancient 4,000-line sacred epic that he, virtually alone, still knows by heart. A devadasi - or temple prostitute - initially resists her own initiation into sex work, yet pushes both her daughters into a trade she now regards as a sacred calling. Nine people, nine lives. Each one taking a different religious path, each one an unforgettable story. Exquisite and mesmerising, and told with an almost biblical simplicity, William Dalrymple's first travel book in over a decade explores how traditional forms of religious life in South Asia have been transformed in the region's rapid change. A distillation of twenty-five years of exploring India and writing about its religious traditions, Nine Lives is a modern Indian Canterbury Tales.

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Author information

William Dalrymple was born in Scotland and brought up on the shores of the Firth of Forth. He wrote the highly acclaimed bestseller In Xanadu when he was twenty-two. City of Djinns won the Thomas Cook Travel Book Award and the Sunday Times Young British Writer of the Year Award. The Age of Kali won the French Prix D'Astrolabe and White Mughals won the Wolfson Prize for History 2003 and the Scottish Book of the Year Prize. His most recent book, The Last Mughal, was longlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize and won the Duff Cooper Memorial Prize. He lives with his wife and three children on a farm outside Dehli.

Review quote

'Nine Lives takes the charm and natural verve of City of Djinns, marries it to the intellectual and spiritual engagement of From the Holy Mountain, and brings it off with all the narrative skill developed in his history books, combined with his ever more profound understanding of India.' Maya Jasanoff, author of Edge of Empire Praise for White Mughals: 'No brief review can do justice to its manifold excellence ... This is quite simply a stunning achievement' - Frank McLynn, Independent on Sunday 'William Dalrymple is that rarity: a scholar of history who can really write' - Salman Rushdie 'A gorgeous, spellbinding and important book... A tapestry of magnificent set pieces and a moving romance' - Miranda Seymour, Sunday Times