I reviewed Katherine Boo’s amazing book Behind the Beautiful Forevers for FT.
May 12, 2012
Life on the edge
Review by Vikas Swarup
A depiction of despair and dreams in an Indian megacity that is as vivid as great fiction
Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Slum, by Katherine Boo,
Portobello, RRP £14.99/ Random House, RRP $27, 288 pages
In the summer of 2011, soon after the devastating earthquake and tsunami hit north-eastern Japan, I hiked on the Nakasendo Way, an ancient highway of Japan that connected Kyoto with Tokyo. In its heyday in the seventeenth century, the Nakasendo was crowded with travellers, including feudal lords, who needed to travel to Tokyo to pay tribute to the shogunate, samurai, itinerant merchants and pilgrims. The 500 kilometre inland route, which passes through the mountainous centre of Japan, was carefully spaced with post towns, inns and teahouses. In the 20th century, a new highway system was constructed which by-passed many of the traditional post towns along the Nakasendo.
I was in Japan when the devastating earthquake and tsunami hit Japan on March 11, 2011. DNA asked me to jot down my initial impressions which were published in the newspaper the next day.
The day the quake hit Japan
DNA / Vikas Swarup / Sunday, March 13, 2011 2:26 IST
At 2.46 pm on Friday, I was in my office in Osaka when the earthquake struck. The consulate general of India is located on the top floor of a ten storied tower in the central business district and I could sense the building swaying.
My review of Aravind Adiga’s Between the Assasinations appeared in The Guardian on July 11, 2009. Here it is:
Aravind Adiga’s short stories take us where other writers fear to tread, says Vikas Swarup
Saturday 11 July 2009
In one of the stories in Between the Assassinations, Aravind Adiga’s collection written in parallel with his Booker-winning The White Tiger, Murali, a young communist and short-story writer, is told by his editor: “There is talent in your writing. You have gone into the countryside and seen life there, unlike ninety per cent of our writers.
Soon after the Oscar ceremony, I contributed the following piece to India Perspectives on my Oscar experience:
The limo arrived at the hotel at exactly three o’clock to take me to the Kodak Theatre where the 81st Academy Awards were to be held. The road leading to the Oscar venue had been closed to traffic since the morning and as my white Audi turned into the gaudy artery ofHollywood Boulevard, I found myself in a sea of limousines. Sleek, shiny, black vehicles with tinted windows lined the boulevard from end to end. Hundreds of people stood at the curb, holding either cameras or placards