Maximum City

Maximum City

Bombay Lost and Found

Book - 2004
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A brilliantly illuminating portrait of Bombay and its people--a book as vast, diverse, and rich in experience, incident, and sensation as the city itself--from an award-winning Indian-American fiction writer and journalist. A native of Bombay, Suketu Mehta gives us a true insider's view of this stunning city, bringing to his account a rare level of insight, detail, and intimacy. He approaches the city from unexpected angles--taking us into the criminal underworld of rival Muslim and Hindu gangs who wrest control of the city's byzantine political and commercial systems . . . following the life of a bar dancer who chose the only life available to her after a childhood of poverty and abuse . . . opening the doors onto the fantastic, hierarchical inner sanctums of Bollywood . . . delving into the stories of the countless people who come from the villages in search of a better life and end up living on the sidewalks--the essential saga of a great city endlessly played out. Through it all--as each individual story unfolds--we hear Mehta's own story: of the mixture of love, frustration, fascination, and intense identification he feels for and with Bombay, as he tries to find home again after twenty-one years abroad. And he makes clear that Bombay--the world's largest city--is a harbinger of the vast megalopolises that will redefine the very idea of "the city" in the near future. Candid, impassioned, funny, and heartrending, Maximum City is a revelation of an ancient and ever-changing world.
Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, c2004
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780375403729
Branch Call Number: 954.79205 MEHTA
Characteristics: xii, 542 p. ; 25 cm


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Apr 04, 2016

A rather unnerving read for someone actually in Mumbai at the time! There's a lot of violence in the first 2/3 of this book, and it is very long. It's more like journalism than analysis, and could have easily been cut. Nonetheless, I found much of interest in the book in spite of myself. Read it before you visit Mumbai, or after, but not when you're there! Read my full review at:

BPLNextBestAdults Jan 05, 2012

Suketu Mehta’s Maximum city: Bombay lost and found is both a classic of modern times and a travel book that serves as a gateway to understanding Mumbai (Bombay) and India. Survival in this urban jungle, where two thirds of its over 19 million inhabitants are crowded into five percent of the total area, demands dhanda and jugaar: the first word roughly translates into transaction and business ability; the second approximates to “make do, innovate, get past the myriad blocks” such as the challenging weather, bureaucracy, corruption, queues, traffic, caste politics, and diverse and competing interests. Mehta pens the intimate stories of bar dancers, mafia dons, whores, drug lords, businessmen, politicians, Bollywood greats and the migrant villagers who populate the jhoparpattis (shanties) with their dreams and demons. Monalisa, the bar dancer, confident of her sexuality and power, is given to self-mutilation to combat her inner sadness. Stories such as Monalisa’s are detailed, intricate, and non-judgmental and have the immediacy and intimacy of the writer comfortable with his craft and bound in intimate affection for his subject. The strong appeal factors in Mehta’s book are setting and character, with Mumbai displaying its unique character, much like Kolkata, Delhi, New York or Paris that have a distinct feel and ethos of their own.


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