Monday, June 11, 2012

Fighting for Scraps

Chiara Goia (Mumbai, 2011)
About a book which writer Pankaj Mishra calls "a moral inquiry" -- here are a few excerpts from
his review:

In “The Drowned and the Saved,” Primo Levi describes an experience that fatally undermined many of his fellow condemned at Auschwitz. Entering the death camp, he had hoped, he wrote, “at least for the solidarity of one’s companions in misfortune.” Instead, there were “a thousand sealed-off monads, and between them a desperate covert and continuous struggle.” This was what Levi called the “Gray Zone,” where the “network of human relationships” “could not be reduced to the two blocs of victims and persecutors,” and where “the enemy was all around but also inside.”


Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity
By Katherine Boo
256 pp. Random House. $27.

Boo describes what happens when opportunity accrues to the already privileged in the age of globalization, governments remain dysfunctional and corrupt, and, with most citizens locked into a fantasy of personal wealth and consumption, hope, too, is privatized, sundered from any notions of collective well-being.

...In this sense, “Behind the Beautiful Forevers” is not just about India’s delusory new culture of aspiration. For as Boo writes, “what was unfolding in Mumbai was unfolding elsewhere, too” — in Nairobi and Santiago, Washington and New York. “In the age of global market capitalism, hopes and grievances were narrowly conceived, which blunted a sense of common predicament.”

From the review by Pankaj Mishra who's new book, “From the Ruins of Empire: The Revolt Against the West and the Remaking of Asia,” will be published in August.

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