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Mumbai Fables
Gyan Prakash

Book Description | Table of Contents
Chapter 1 [in PDF format]


"The book is . . . accessible and will interest even the lay reader with its stories that illumine Bombay's past. Essential reading for anyone interested in a deeper understanding of Mumbai."--Ravi Shenoy, Library Journal

"A majestic work of history. . . . Search for a single dull paragraph or a mildly boring chapter and you will be frustrated and defeated. . . . There is serious history here, which is very readable, and there is serious history of sex, murder, and scams reminiscent of the works of the novelist James Ellroy."--Arthur J. Pais, India Abroad

"Etching out the cultural history of one of the world's most important urban centers, Gyan Prakash views Mumbai through its turning points and kaleidoscopic ideas, comic book heroes, and famous scandals. Shedding light on the city's past and present, Mumbai Fables offers an unparalleled look at this extraordinary metropolis."--Srirekha Chakravarty, India Post

"A delight. . . . Mumbai's history is almost as full of crime, corruption, terror, and chauvinism as of fabulous creativity. In Prakash's account, rightly, it is the latter which predominates."--Stephen Howe, Independent (UK)

"[Prakash] has been able to pull together an impressive amount of facts, figures, and fables by devoting himself to sources such as novels, poems, films, interviews, tabloid accounts and even comic-book illustrations."--Bharti Kirchner, Seattle Times

"Reading Mumbai Fables, you can get the sense of the linear timeline, the Bombay to Mumbai, England to India, with a jagged Partition down the middle. . . . But going from A to B won't help you understand how that happened. Prakash uses the act of collage to give the reader a better perspective. . . . Masterful. . . . I think Prakash gets closer to a true picture of what Mumbai is--if a city is anything."--Jessa Crispin, Smart Set

"I recommend you read Mumbai Fables. And then, crack a beer and watch a Hindi film."--Amitava Kumar,

"[An] excellent account of Mumbai. . . . This is an insider's view of one of India's most exciting and unusual cities. It is a reminder of how much deeper a local can go and how much more valuable such a guide can be. If you are planning a visit to Mumbai this is a superb introduction."--Bruce Elder, Sydney Morning Herald

"The real and rapid development currently taking place in India offers new hope, but it will take dreamers as well as business leaders to fashion a new modernity for the masses rather than just the elites. Mumbai Fables points to one good place to start."--Dolan Cummings,

"Gyan Prakash's Mumbai Fables is a thing of beauty. Trawling the archives as flâneur and walking the city's past as historian, Prakash reads the city as palimpsest. He pays homage to the seductive power of myths about Mumbai and its earlier avatar Bombay--the city of free enterprise, the efficient city, the cosmopolitan city, the liberal city, the modern city--while illuminating the troubled histories and lowly origins from which the myths emerge."--Rohit Chopra, Sunday Guardian

"Mumbai Fables is an engaging narrative, and offers a different way for urban historians to write the biography of a city. But it will have more to offer for those familiar with the city, for whom the gleam of recognition will be a benefit."--Katrina Gulliver, Berlin Review of Books

"Utilizing popular literature, movies, comics, and art as metaphors for Mumbai's (Bombay's) history, historian Prakash interprets the history and allure of Mumbai from its early days as a collection of small islands containing an equally small population to its contemporary attempts to become a 'world class city.'"--Choice

"[I]n Mumbai Fables, Prakash has managed to write a riveting account, which is very much his own. . . . Each story is so well-told that it is impossible to put the book down."--Jaya Bhattacharji Rose, Businessworld

"[T]his is an immensely readable book. In a highly informative and innovative style Prakash presents both a popular urban history and a sophisticated interpretation of that history, without compromising content, style or concept."--Arnab Roy Chowdhury, Contemporary South Asia

"Mumbai Fables is a wonderfully entertaining introduction to the city's rich cultural history."--Lisa Kaaki, Arab News

"There is a fabulous element to his account, the retrieving of childhood awe, and a very real enchantment which much writing about Mumbai shares."--Andrew Whitehead, Raritan


"A fascinating exploration of my favorite city, full of insider knowledge and sharp insights."--Salman Rushdie

"Gyan Prakash brilliantly combines the historian's savoir faire with the savvy seductions of the urban raconteur. Mumbai Fables splendidly explores the shape-changing, scene-setting experience of a city that dares to restlessly reinvent its horizons. It is the challenge of the 'present' and the survival of the everyday, Prakash argues, that gives Mumbai its myth and reality. 'It's now or never,' the city seems to sing, 'tomorrow will be too late.'"--Homi K. Bhabha, Harvard University

"Blending historical research with a novelistic spirit, Mumbai Fables fluidly unfolds the development of the city in a rich narrative that makes the story come alive. Prakash challenges our understanding of Mumbai's cosmopolitanism and his colorful descriptions enhance our view of the city in manifold ways. This is a great book."--Rahul Mehrotra, RMA Architects and Massachusetts Institute of Technology

"This fabulous book is lively and engaging, as well as profound and important. In clear and compelling prose Prakash unearths dynamic features of one of the most important cities in the world, achieving a large-scale portrait, from its origins to today. Rich with stories, this is a masterful sweep through a great city's history."--Philip J. Ethington, University of Southern California

"Mumbai Fables tells the moving history of this city through extended vignettes and personal stories that are a pleasure to read. Providing countless insights, this superb book moves through different neighborhoods, time periods, and individuals, and wonderfully depicts the living city--the modern city--through five centuries of its existence."--Eric D. Weitz, author of Weimar Germany

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File created: 4/21/2017

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