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An illuminating portrait of Bombay and its people—a book as vast, diverse, and rich in experience, incident, and sensation as the city itself—from an award-winning Indian-American fiction writer and journalist.
A native of Bombay, Suketu Mehta gives us a true insider’s view of this stunning city, bringing to his account a rare level of insight, detail, and intimacy. He approaches the city from unexpected angles—taking us into the criminal underworld of rival Muslim and Hindu gangs who wrest control of the city’s byzantine political and commercial systems; following the life of a bar dancer who chose the only life available to her after a childhood of poverty and abuse; opening the doors onto the fantastic, hierarchical inner sanctums of Bollywood; delving into the stories of the countless people who come from the villages in search of a better life and end up living on the sidewalks—the essential saga of a great city endlessly played out.
Candid, impassioned, funny, and heartrending, Maximum City is a revelation of an ancient and ever-changing world.
“Maximum City is narrative reporting at its finest, probably the best work of nonfiction to come out of India in recent years. . . . The depth of Mehta’s evocative and beautiful prose keeps things lively. Indeed, Mehta’s most impressive skill lies not in his documentary prowess but in the psychological acuity of his writing: we come away from his encounters feeling we know the inner lives of the people he has depicted. In this sense, Maximum City is more than a consideration of the material limits on urban living; it is a profound meditation on the existential (and even spiritual) longings that persist despite those limits.”
—Akash Kapur, The New York Times Book Review
“Quite extraordinary—Mehta writes about Bombay with an unsparing ferocity born of his love, which I share, for the old pre-Mumbai city which has now been almost destroyed by corruption, gangsterism and neo-fascist politics, its spirit surviving in tiny moments and images which he seizes upon as proof of the survival of hope. The quality of his investigative reportage, the skill with which he persuades hoodlums and murderers to open up to him, is quite amazing. It’s the best book yet written about that great, ruined metropolis, my city as well as his, and it deserves to be very widely read.”
—Salman Rushdie, author of Midnight's Children and The Moor's Last Sigh