Looking Through Glass

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Ravi Dayal, 1995 - Social Science - 378 pages
Looking through Glass is a powerful and immensely entertaining novel set in the troubled 1940s - the era of India's partition and independence. Its narrator is our contemporary, an ambitious young photographer properly unconcerned with history. But history makes him her own - in a literal way - when he finds himself suddenly transported into the deep end of 1942. His involuntary odyssey through a crumbling Raj takes him from Muslim neighborhoods and coffee shops to Hindu wrestling academies to colonial enclaves of viceregal splendor. He meets change-mongering nationalists, but also Ammi, founder of the Society for the Defense of the Present; Gyanendra, a pioneering pornographer; and even his own grandmother, whom he cremated long before. Stuck, like the rest of us, in a time and place not of his choosing, he does the usual things: He improvises a life and assembles a world - one bound by affection, not ideology. And as he struggles to sidestep the juggernaut that will irrevocably divide Hindus and Muslims, we discover, often with a terrible poignancy, how much of what came to be in India need not have been.

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LOOKING THROUGH GLASS

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A Delhi history professor's promising but flawed first novel offers a what-if? look at recent Indian history—in this case beginning with an accidental fall that sends the hero back to 1942 and on to ... Read full review

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