Book Review: The Essence of Delhi

Title: The Essence of Delhi
Author: Various
Publisher: Aleph Book Company
Pages: 134
ISBN: 978-9388292306
Source: Publisher

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Aleph Olio series is aimed at bringing together some of the best works on India, in the form of thematic compilations of stories and essays. The Essence of Delhi comprises of 12 pieces of writing on Delhi. There are short stories and excerpts taken from longer works on Delhi.

The authors included in the collection are Malvika Singh, Khushwant Singh, William Dalrymple, Nirmal Verma and Ruskin Bond among others. Two of the stories in the collection are originally written in Hindi. And I feel this is one of the best things about the collection. It brings together different flavours on a single palate.

Malvika Singh’s Perpetual City provides a historical account of the city and an excerpt from Darlymple’s City of Djinns presents another curious (not historical though) account of the city. There is a selection from Khushwant Singh’s famous novel Delhi, in which the author describes Delhi in terms of his mistress. While Ahmed Ali’s Twilight in Delhi presents an ordinary yet extraordinary day in the city, Nilanjana Roy’s A New Arrival presents the world of cats in the city. Delhi’s food and publishing world also feature in the collection in a beautiful manner.

There pieces of writing included range from 5 page length to over 20 pages. The collection, as a whole, forms a very interesting read. Since there are different writers, each piece of writing brings freshness of its own. Besides that I feel the Olio series in itself is great to discover new writers, of whom one would like to read more works.

The one author that I look forward to reading more is Deepti Kapoor. I really liked her writing style and I checked her novel titled A Bad Character (an excerpt from which is included in the collection) online but it is not available. I am sure every reader will find something or the other to suit his/her taste in this collection. Highly Recommended.

My Rating: **** (4.25/5)

What do you think of this collection? Which is your favourite work on Delhi? Do share your views. Thanks.


*I was kindly sent a copy by the publisher, in exchange for an honest review. Views expressed are entirely personal and unbiased.*

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