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City of Djinns


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William Dalrymple was awarded "The Sunday Times" Young Writer of the Year Award in 1994. This book was awarded the 1994 Thomas Cook Travel Book Award.

About the Author

William Dalrymple's first book, In Xanadu, won the Yorkshire Post Best First Work Award and the Scottish Arts Council Spring Book Award. His third, From the Holy Mountain, won the Scottish Arts Council Autumn Book Award and was shortlisted for the 1998 Thomas Cook Award. His fourth, The Age of Kali, was published in November 1998. He is the youngest Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, and has recently written and presented a six-part series on the buildings of the Raj for Channel 4.


Delhi is a city alive with legends and history for British journalist Dalrymple. In this engaging, colorful record of one year spent in India's capital (which won him the 1994 Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award), past and present intersect as he tours bazaars, crumbling palaces and imperial buildings designed by English colonialist architect Sir Edwin Lutyens; attends a Sikh mourning ceremony following a cremation; and meets mystics, nouveaux-riches Punjabis, poets and eunuchs descended from servants of sultans. Stories of djinns-mischievous spirits who presumably watched over Delhi through successive invasions-intertwine with the intrigues of Mughal emperors, the adventures of 14th-century Moroccan traveler Ibn Battuta, who was appointed a judge and ambassador in Delhi and snippets of the ancient Sanskrit epic Mahabharata. Dalrymple has a keen eye for the ethnic and religious tensions of a city where high-rises, shopping plazas and satellite dishes are crowding out bungalows and temples. Illustrated. (Dec.)

'Delightful... Surely one of the funniest books about India' Times Literary Supplement 'Scholarly and marvellously entertaining... a considerable feat' Dervla Murphy, Spectator 'Dalrymple has pulled it off again' Jan Morris, Independent

Delhi has a richly layered past, and Dalrymple (In Xanadu, McKay, 1990) deftly peels away each layer to reveal how the city came to be what it is today. Djinns are spirits said to be seen only after prolonged fasting and prayer; they too are integral to understanding the city. The author, a young Scot carrying on the fine British tradition of travel writing, has a knack for meeting fascinating people and capturing their most revealing remarks. He introduces us to dervishes, eunuchs, partridge fighting, weddings, and expatriates. His wife contributes sketches that nicely complement his text. Considering the importance of Delhi, the capital of the world's second most populous nation, this book deserves to be in most public and academic libraries.-Harold M. Otness, Southern Oregon State Coll. Lib., Ashland

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