In Times of Siege

In Times of Siege

Product ID: 14176

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Author: Githa Hariharan
Publisher: Penguin
Year: 2004
Language: English
Pages: 206
ISBN/UPC (if available): 0143032429


What makes a fanatic? A fundamentalist? What makes communities that have lived together for years suddenly discover a hatred for each other? As if in answer, Shiv hears a distant rumble, then the parking lot fills with people. Even at a distance he can sense the tension in them, bodies like clenched fists, voices angry and shrill.

New Delhi, in the year 2000. Staff meetings, lesson modules, a half-hearted little affair with a colleague--this is the bland but comfortable life of Shiv Murthy, a history teacher in an open university. But disruption and change are on their way--an outspoken young woman with a broken knee comes into his life and turns it upside-down; then Hindu zealots attack his writings on Basava, the reformer-poet. With fundamentalism landing on his own doorstep, Shiv discovers that the ideas he has inherited--about history, nations and patriots--are shrinking day by day. And the time of siege is not exclusively Indian; prejudice speaks different languages but has the same destructive message: ‘Only trust those of your kind’. With love, lust and a perverted nationalism at his heels, Shiv is forced to confront the demands of his times and choose a direction for the future. But first, he must come to terms with his own incomplete past, his fears, and his obsession with a woman who will give him the strength he seeks.

Sometimes funny, often moving, this stark, contemporary narrative unfolds the story of ordinary lives besieged, of men and women struggling to make sense of hatred, ignorance, love and loyalty--to individuals, ideas and the nation. Sharp and gripping, and permeated with a chilling sense of menace, In Times of Siege holds up an uncompromising mirror to India today.


Githa Hariharan’s fiction is wonderful, full of subtleties and humour and tenderness.
-Michael Ondaatje

An outstanding writer.
-J.M. Coetzee

She can do magic.
-India Today

Hariharan’s trajectory is quite unique, her tellings and retellings (are) in turn rich, supple, sensuous and cerebral.
-Independent on Sunday

Beautifully written and evocative.
-Times Literary Supplement

Her control is sure.

Sunny and well-lit prose which conceals nothing reveals everything.
-The Times of India

There are some books, a clutch of writers, a handful of vivid imaginations that fill one with an eager anticipation to enter worlds waiting to be born. Hariharan is one such novelist.

Hariharan writs with anguish, pain and anger about what is happening to our country. I put In Times of siege on top of my list of books that must be read.
-Khushwant Singh

She writes with an unflinching eye for detail, often cloaked in a dry, almost black, humour, and all of it drenched in a shimmering violence.
-Indian Express