City of Djinns: A Year in Delhi (Paperback)
by William Dalrymple
If you love find travel writing, a nicely woven history, a personal journey and an insightful perspective of the capital of India then you can’t do better than read City of Djinns. The prose style is elegant and laced with wit and panache. I found the history of the Mughal Empire particularly compelling. This is a world of eunuchs, lavish gardens and forts, vast harems, murder and palace intrigue, with brothers killing each other for power and wealth.
Dalrymle draws the interesting historical point that the Muslim culture was hevily influenced by the Greeks with the emphasis on rationality and logic. Unlike the Hindus, they were urban people, their gardens a tribute to order; unlike the chaotic Hindus whose tangle overgrown gardens and love of the country set up a rival mindset that remains today. The author’s interviews with those who lived through the bloody Partition in 1947 is moving and disturbing.
A Trinity, Cambridge graduate, Dalyrmple recalls attending a party in Delhi where a senior official asked if he had attended Eton. When he said that he hadn’t, the senior official abruptly moved on to find someone more suitable among the gathering.
City of Djinns will have you ordering all of Dalrymle’s books. His books have won numerous awards, and his first was published, as one English critic aptly put it at the “irritating” age of 22.