Maximum City by Suketu Mehta

Mumbai city due to its rich cultural heritage has always been a fascinating subject for artists. So, be it painters, photographers, filmmakers, or writers this city has been covered beautifully by each one of them. Now, there have been a few authors who have captured the essence of this city through the use of eloquent words in the form of a book. Therefore, here is presenting a list of 7 best books based on the “City that never sleeps”.

a. Maximum City: Bombay and Lost- Suketu Mehta:

Considered to be “the definitive book on Mumbai” is Maximum City: Bombay and Lost written by Suketu Mehta. Nominated for the prestigious “Pulitzer Prize” in 2005, this book provides for an “insider’s” view of the city considered to be the “financial capital” of India. Furthermore, this book takes the reader through the journey of the city via the eyes of the author who lived in this city and eventually migrated to New York in 1977. In other words, this book is essentially a document of Mehta “rediscovering” the city he left at the tender age of 14.  So, if an insider’s perspective of the city is what one wants, then this book is an ideal read.

b. Mumbai Fables- Gyan Prakash:

“The history of maximum city” is what a book called Mumbai Fables authored by Gyan Prakash describes in depth. So beginning with events such as migration of a number of communities to this city to the development of culture in the city, this book covers it all. Furthermore, it discusses in detail the contribution of powerful Urdu writers such as Saadat Hasan Manto and Ismat Chugtai and their impact on the culture of Mumbai. It also discusses a scandal that gripped the city during the late 1950’s in the form of the Nanavati Case. In addition, the rise of the political party Shiv Sena has also been mentioned. And so, if you intend to understand the history of Mumbai in depth then “Mumbai Fables” is a book that must be read.

c. Black Friday- The True Story of the Bombay Bomb Blast:

“The conspiracy behind the 1993 Mumbai bomb blasts” is what a book titled Black Friday written by experienced crime journalist Hussain Zaidi is all about. Describing the conspiracy that was hatched in retaliation to the 1992-93 Mumbai riots, this book brilliant unmasks the face of “evil” that resides in this beautiful cosmopolitan city. Using extremely simplistic journalistic language Hussain explains in detail the involvement of a smuggler such as Tiger Memon and the dreaded don Dawood Ibrahim in the conspiracy. Furthermore, the author also reveals the involvement of “Bollywood” star Sanjay Dutt in this conspiracy. So, if you intend to understand the intricacies of the plot that led to the Mumbai blasts in 1993, then this is the ideal book to refer.

d. Shantaram- Gregory David Roberts:

“An outsider’s view of Mumbai” is what the novel Shantaram written by an ex-Australian convict Gregory David Roberts can best be described as. Published in 2003, this novel is based on the life that Gregory experienced in Mumbai after escaping the Pentridge Prision in Australia located in Victoria on July 18th 1980. Mixing facts and fiction brilliantly, the novelist churns out an entertaining story and provides an “outsider’s” perspective on the city of Mumbai. Furthermore, he beautifully captures the essence of places in the city such as the Colaba Causeway, Café Leopold, and the slums located in Cuff Parade. And so, if the intention is to get an “outside” view of Mumbai, then Shantaram is a book that must be definitely read.

e. Dongri to Dubai- Six Decades of the Mumbai mafia:

A comprehensive study of the Mumbai mafia” would the ideal way to describe a book titled Dongri to Dubai- Six decades in the Mumbai mafia written by crime journalist Hussain Zaidi. Starting from the birth of crime in the city in the early 1940’s to the 2000’s, Zaidi with simplistic language clinically dissects the growth of all major gangsters. Furthermore, the author also in this book successfully manages to describe the culture of crime that led to the development of dreaded gangsters such as Dawood Ibrahim and Chhota Rajan. Overall, it would be fair to say that this is the definitive book for all those interested in understanding crime that occurred over the years in Mumbai city.

f. Such a long Journey- Rohinton Mistry:

Nominated for the “Booker Prize” is a novel published in 1991 titled Such a long journey written by Rohinton Mistry. This novel tells a sensitive tale of a Parsi family residing in the city Mumbai during the 1970’s. Furthermore, it also captures the period of “Emergency” imposed in India by the then Prime Indira Gandhi extremely beautifully. Written in simple yet eloquent language, this book is ideal for all those who are interested in understanding the complexities that can arise within a family living under an atmosphere of fear and repression.

g. Sacred Games- Vikram Chandra:

Published in 2006, was a novel titled Sacred Games written by Vikram Chandra. Based in the city of Mumbai, the novelist brilliantly spins a tale around the gangsters belonging to the Mumbai underworld known locally as “Bhais”, and the cops. It also intricately illustrates a “cat and mouse” game being played between the mob and the cops. Furthermore, the novelist adds spice by involving links between the underworld, political world, and the world of espionage. So, if an exciting fictional story involving crime at its best is what you want, then this novel is certainly worth reading.

image credit

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here