Thursday, October 14, 2010

Review: Mumbai Fables

Gyan Prakash’s book Mumbai Fables traces Mumbai’s lineage from the 16th century Portuguese occupation of the islands to the Mumbai of today. It is a well known fact that that the Portuguese had given away Bombay as dowry to the Britishers. The city gained prominence in the 19th century as the commercial capital as well as the most important port of the British Empire in India. The book takes you through the development of the maximum city.  

Shedding light on the city’s past and present, Mumbai Fables offers an unparalleled look at this extraordinary metropolis.

Starting from the catastrophic floods and terrorist attacks of the recent years, the author reaches back to the 16th century Portuguese conquest to reveal the stories behind Mumbai’s historic journey. He looks at Mumbai’s 19th century development under the British rule, and its 20th century avatar as a fabled city on the sea, to examine its emergence as a symbol of opportunity and reinvention.
The book gives a lot of facts and history of the city but falls short of being able to keep the reader interested till the very end. The author’s style of writing is that of an onlooker hence fails to get into the spirit of the city.

The book is a good read for Bombay lovers who want to know more about their city’s history.

About the Author:

Gyan Prakash is the Dayton-Stockton Professor of History at Princeton University. He is the author of Bonded Histories (Cambridge), and Another Reason (Princeton).

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