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4.0 out of 5 starsA very good study on humanity
Reviewed in the United States on July 11, 2018
The story is great. It keeps you interested in so many characters and each chapter brings a new challenge to each one. The really interesting thing though is the “study” the complete poverty has on the people of the City of Joy and how, because of it and I spite of it, the truly care for each other. We are talking about Christians, Muslims, Hindus, all living, carding and supporting each other. I would have loved to had it on my Kindle because the print in the paperback is so small but well worth the strain.
5.0 out of 5 starsEpic Poverty Brilliantly Understood
Reviewed in the United States on April 6, 2014
I spent five years in India, the first two in Calcutta. I was appalled the first day to see fragile two wheel-rickshaws parked near my apartment corner. They were 'taxis' pulled by bare-chested, barefoot men. It took months before I climbed into one and only after my British date explained the favor we would be doing the man who pulled it. We would tip him a month's pay for our ride. He then gave me advice for future rides. Never climb into a rickshaw if you have doubts about the driver and/or he won't give you a fair price. Not many white folk used rickshaws. I was young and more in love with India with every breath. I visited many parts of Calcutta, a sprawling city of 12,000,000 people. Eventually I had a car but liked riding the rickshaws too much to give them up. I could go anywhere in the city at any hour and find a safe ride home. They took care of me. I have never felt so safe. And I have lived many places. I know some of them have to be in the pages of "The City of Joy."
"The City of Joy" is epic. I love it. It is a great book. Beautifully written. It is hard to describe its totality. So I'm not going to review it. Instead I quote from the author's " Afterward": "That very first monsoon morning I walked into it. I knew that this wretched inhuman slum of Calcutta called the City of Joy was one of the most extraordinary places on our planet. When I left it two years later with some twenty pads full of notes and hundreds of hours of tape, I knew I had the material for the greatest book of my career, an epic of heroism, love, and faith, glorious tribute to the human capacity to beat adversity and survive every possible tragedy."
"This certainly was one of the most extraordinary experiences that a writer could. It changed my life. Living with the heroic inhabitants of the City of Joy completely transformed my sense of priorities and my assessment of the true values of life." . In his Author's Note Dominique Lapierre says that we should not extend his impressions gathered in "The City of Joy" to the whole of India, that they are based on "one small corner of it--a small area of Calcutta called the City of Joy.
The City of Joy is not seen by tourists. Much better that they read Lapierre's fantastically rich empathetic description of Calcutta's sub city. and some of her poorest and most heroic. If you think you understand poverty and hardship, if you have travelled to or want to understand India better read this book.
5.0 out of 5 starsOne of the best books I've ever read
Reviewed in the United States on January 9, 2020
This is one of those change your life books like on the road, Walden, or the snow leopard. Just be careful you don't wind up on a plane to Calcutta by the end. Do not judge this by the movie, that thing was a butchery
5.0 out of 5 starsLaPierre documents every word with real facts
Reviewed in the United States on March 15, 2014
LaPierre helped to write O Jerusalem and Is Paris Burning--both great books that are documented by facts. In the City of Joy, LaPierre tells the stories of families and priests and others (haven't finished it yet) and gives a truthful feel for Calcutta with its sadness, its greatness, its smells and feels. Our church has a mission there in the city. I am enjoying "seeing and feeling" the city even though I cannot physically go there. I will share it with my pastor, on the board of the mission and his daughter who is there as a missionary.
5.0 out of 5 starsStrange name for such a deslate place, but, then again, maybe not
Reviewed in the United States on June 20, 2014
This book told the story of a city, its inhabitants and their coping strategy. The "city of joy" is at the bottom of the list of wealthy places to live. A priest goes to live among the poorest of the poor and this is the tale of how he adapted and what he learned. The book was totally mesmerizing. You really become involved in the lives of everyone. It was an emotionally exhausting journey but well worth it.
We read this for our Book Club. It's a reminder of how good we have it in America and of how even the poorest of the poor keep their humanity by helping and serving each other even in extreme duress. Even though improvemants have been made over time, I'm sure there are still plenty of out there still suffering. The book keeps your interest all the way through. I bought the DVD and watched Slumdog Millionaire again.
5.0 out of 5 starsGreat book giving insights into slum life in Calcutta
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 24, 2014
The book was a bit old-looking and slightly dusty, however at 1 pence second-hand plus p&p I won't be picky about that! Love reading it, though the injustice of the plight of the poor in India makes you quite angry. I'm also more conscious about what I'm eating: We have food in such abundance & eat too much, many in our society even get sick from chronic over-eating. In contrast, the slum dwellers have malnourished children who often cry themselves to sleep for hunger. It is set in the seventies, as far as I can make out, but have the nasty feeling things might not have changed an awful lot for the poorest of the poor. The strength of the book is that it gives you different view points of a number of characters who come together in this slum, including a couple of idealistic Westerners, and it is well-written. There's also the occasional background information on relevant history, and on Hindu rituals and festivities.
5.0 out of 5 starsUrban India in the Raw. Magnificent.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 15, 2013
I have experience of rural India but only visited a couple of the larger cities.l have also come across such icredible humane people like Dominique Lapierre, albeit they had very little financial backing to start with. Such people are living saints to have the courage, detemination and faith in their cause to be able to leave the western world with all it comforts and help the desparately poor, lame and ill. This is India in the raw but without the smell, heat, dirt(filth) and feel the discomfort of hunger and bugs.. A wonderful account of a hard life. It would be an eye opener for the idle and disaffected of the western world.
French with English sub- titles which are no bother. The story is beautiful and although slightly different than the book, it tells a very true story about a country which is very difficult to understand but very captivating to westerners. Actors are perfectly matched.