A dazzling, multilayered novel that not only encompasses a searing love story but, with its epic reach from quarks to mythology to geopolitics, also encapsulates the fate of the entire world.
As Mumbai empties under the threat of imminent nuclear annihilation, Sarita, a 33-year-old statistician, can only think of one thing: being reunited with Karun, her physicist husband. Why has he vanished? Who is he running from? How will they form the family of three he’s always wanted? To find him, Sarita must journey across the surreal landscape of a near-abandoned city, braving gangs of competing Hindu and Muslim hoodlums. Joining her is Jaz - nominally a Muslim but whose true religion has always been sex with other men.
Danger lurks around every corner, but so does the incongruous and the absurd: the patron goddess Devi Ma has even materialized on a beach to save her city from harm. Sarita’s search leads her to this beach, thrusting her into a trinity so mercurial, so consuming, that it will alter her life more fundamentally than any apocalypse to come.
Fearlessly provocative, wickedly comedic, and propelled with rocket-fuel energy, The City of Devi exuberantly upends assumptions of politics, religion, sex, and India's global emergence.
©2013 Manil Suri (P)2013 Blackstone Audio, Inc
"The City of Devi combines, in a magician's feat, the thrill of Bollywood with the pull of a thriller. Set in a city at the brink of the end, this is a fiercely imagined story of three souls haunted by a love that will change their most elemental ideas of identity. Manil Suri's bravest and most passionate book." (Kiran Desai, Man Booker Prize-winning author)
"The novel is driven by love and hope…. Suri’s dynamic, unabashed voice leaves one for the most part happily, perpetually off-balance." (Publishers Weekly)
This book surprised me. It definitely went down paths I did not anticipate. Yes, this is a story about an Indian woman (Sarita) trying to find her husband (Karun) in a pre apocalyptic world. But more than that this is a love story between Sarita and Karun, and Jazz (a man) and Karun. We learn in great detail how both these relationships develop. So this may not be a book for everyone. But for me, I became invested in all the characters right away and had to find out how it ended. I thought the author did a great job at writing the emotion, the passion, and turmoil for both these relationships. The book also explores Indian culture, traditions and the conflict between Hindu and Muslim. We are also introduced to a colorful cast of characters. The narrators did an excellent job as well, and the editing was flawless, no loud breaths to distract the listener.
India vs Pakistan, Hindu vs Moslem, 3 characters looking for love when life itself is such a challenge. Manil Suri takes on a road trip that gives us war, love, religion, lots of criminals of every stripe and evolving true love that expresses itself as the physical nature of love takes second place in the lives of three consenting adults. I felt that Priyas' narration is not top quality. Vikas Adam is excellent.
So I'm giving it 5 stars because I want to offset the poor ratings made by people who are ignorant and/or bigoted.
The first factual inaccuracy in bad reviews I'd like to rail against is the idea that the blood and gore of war shown in this book was over-the-top, unrealistic, or unbelievable. I'm sure these comments are from Americans who are willfully ignorant of the history of the United States and current events internationally.
The second reason this book has gotten bad reviews with which I disagree is the complaint that about a third of it is gay porno. In reality, the erotic scenes are substantially less explicit than any actual porn. Most of the "gay" scenes are just the love story between Jaz and his partner. I think most people who make this complaint are just homophobes who hate that they find themselves getting turned on by the somewhat erotic love story between two men.
All this said, I almost stopped listening because the war violence was too believable and explicit for me and was thus too triggering (as a survivor of similar violence myself).
I did finish reading and got super pissed off at the ending. It took what could have been (and was shaping up to be) a great poly love story and turned it into just another poly tragedy. It is just one more in a long string of love stories in which the relationship is a form that is not socially accepted, and is thus punished in the end by the author in the form of great tragedy befalling the protagonists. (Just like all the interracial love stories in the past and gay love stories of the past ending in tragedy when these were more unacceptable relationship forms.) I'm so pissed off about this that I plan to return this to get Coraline in order to try to take my mind off how pissed off at the author I am for this.
The narration is great, and the writing style is also great. Very talented writer in spinning prose which is detailed in all the right ways.
Yes, Vikas Adam did a really good job of reading the book - capturing the voices and accents of different characters.. entertaining and captivating.
Editors Select, February 2013 - Mumbai is emptying out under the looming threat of a nuclear bomb. Amidst the chaos a woman sets out to look for her missing husband in a city now mostly occupied with marauding thugs. I love a good dystopian story, and Manil Suri's absurdist pre-apocalyptic novel has been praised for its astute insights into humanity, divinity, and love - all at the end of the world. —Michael, Audible Editor
Yeah thanks Michael, you left out the part about the graphic gay sex that takes up at least a third of the book.
There's an inherent risk in trading your credits for stories. This story was failed risk.
Normally, with a printed book, I give the author three chapters. I listened to this story for four plotless hours...it was naught but of a description of a woman wandering around war torn Mumbai, searching for her husband with flashbacks about how they met.
I became impatient to hear the author wander somewhere near a plot, so I skipped ahead to the second part of the Audible book. I found the material there uncompelling as well.
I fail to see how this story could be put in the Science Fiction/Fantasy category. It seemed to me to be a project from a Creative Writing class that lived too long. There was lots of sensual description, but little story.
Avoiding it entirely!
No warning about the explicit sex in the "Audible Editors Reviews" (Really, Michael?!) and "Publisher's Summary" and 'What the Critics say." They said it was: "Fearlessly provocative, wickedly comedic, and propelled with rocket-fuel energy." I never heard anything comedic or caught any of the energy - provocative is all that came through! Disappointed in myself for not reading READER reviews. If I could I would return this and get my credit back! I would never have chosen to purchase this.Movies & TV shows have ratings - Why not books?
Never heard them before. They are great narrators. Performance was delightful. Too bad the story was about things I didn't want to hear!
I gave up on it when I realized where it was going (wedding night, etc. - Karun is probably gay) and then looked up reviews and plot spoilers, which confirmed my suspicions.
I wish I had read readers reviews. I wish I could return this!
Cheap sex theatrics to make the story more engaging. Skip the sex and the story would have been interesting on its own.
Focus more on the post-apocolyptic story line, and less on weird sex.
Interesting perspective on war in the Middle East.
I finished listening to it because I wanted to see how the story ended with the characters, but would not recommend the book.
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