Manual for a Decent Life

Manual for a Decent Life

3.9 (10 ratings by Goodreads)
By (author) 

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The year is 1996. A principled and spirited woman sets her sights on becoming a member of Parliament. When and how does she get there? The story unfolds through the perspectives of two dramatically contrasting characters whose lives become tragically entangled. Waheeda is a thirty-two-year-old woman from Uttar Pradesh who enters politics after her brothers are murdered. Monish, her secret lover, is a scion of a Delhi business dynasty, who is trapped in his bullying father's empire. Their affair is set against the backdrop of a tumultuous time in politics--tumbling governments and three national elections taking place over three years. Their personal and public lives clash as they struggle to achieve their goals: power for her; fortune for him; unaware of the dangers that swirl around them. Everything is interconnected, not just wealth and politics, even if the characters are not fully cognisant of this.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 448 pages
  • 133 x 203 x 25mm | 508g
  • English
  • 1944467238
  • 9781944467234
  • 1,696,954

Review quote

'This stunning crisply-paced novel reveals its interwoven themes and storylines in social-realist style. Manual For A Decent Life is excitingly ambitious, exploring dilemmas around politics, gender and sex at a fascinating moment in Indian history. Kavita A. Jindal brings her themes to life via a gripping story featuring family dynasties, violent death, conflicts between love and ambition, sex and betrayal, and an original take on the absurdities of societal conventions in small towns and big cities.'--Michele Roberts, Author of the Man-Booker-Prize shortlisted Daughters of the House

Set against turbulent times in politics, Jindal unfolds the life and times of Waheeda, a determined middle-class Muslim woman aiming to win a seat in Parliament, whose personal life gets tragically entangled with Monish, the son of a business tycoon. Jindal uses her considerable story-telling power to present a volatile mix of murder and mayhem, the clash of religion and traditional practices with love, sex, greed, and power. The dialogue is down-to-earth, the domestic space rendered in fine detail, and the cultural landscape sharply observed. The rapid pace of the plot makes for edge-of-seat excitement. Jindal's novel offers a telling commentary on the bigotry of our times and the potential for women to play centre stage in public affairs.--Saleem Peeradina, Author of Heart's Beast: New and Selected Poems

While exploring the tensions that exist between the personal and the political in an Indian Muslim single mother's life, Jindal has created a compelling novel that is impossible to put down.--Manju Kapur

Manual For A Decent Life is a heart-searching novel with a wide sweep. Its themes of Indian family, female identity and power struggles are of contemporary significance.--Russell Celyn Jones
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Rating details

10 ratings
3.9 out of 5 stars
5 40% (4)
4 30% (3)
3 10% (1)
2 20% (2)
1 0% (0)
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