Almost Home by Githa Hariharan Summary
What does a medieval city in South India have in common with Washington D.C.? How do people in Kashmir imagine the freedom they long for? To whom does Delhi, city of grand monuments and hidden slums, actually belong? And what makes a city, or any place, home? In ten intricately carved essays, renowned author Githa Hariharan tackles these questions and takes readers on an eye-opening journey across time and place, exploring the history, landscape, and people that have shaped the world’s most fascinating and fraught cities. Inspired by Italo Calvino’s playful and powerful writing about journeys and cities, Harihan combines memory, cultural criticism, and history to sculpt fascinating, layered stories about the places around the world—from Delhi, Mumbai, and Kashmir to Palestine, Algeria, and eleventh-century Córdoba, from Tokyo to New York and Washington. In narrating the lives of these place’s vanquished and marginalized, she plumbs the depths of colonization and nation-building, poverty and war, the fight for human rights and the day-to-day business of survival. “In essays that bespeak a thoroughly cosmopolitan sensibility, Githa Hariharan not only takes us on illuminating tours through cities rich in history, but gives a voice to urban people from all over the world—Kashmir, Palestine, Delhi—trying to live with basic human dignity under circumstances of dire repression or crushing poverty.” —JM Coetzee “Hariharan’s writing in spare, punctuated with passages of brilliant clarity and compassion.” —Verve "She can do magic… Hariharan's greatest gift is the ability to weave story, poetry and magic into the simplest of sentences, so that reading her is an effortless pleasure." —India Today Born in Coimbatore, India, Githa Hariharan grew up in Bombay and Manila. She was educated in those two cities and later in the United States. She has worked as a staff writer for WNET-Channel 13 in New York, an editor for Orient Longman, a freelance professional editor for a range of academic institutions and foundations, and visiting professor at a number of international universities. Her first novel, The Thousand Faces of Night (1992) won the Commonwealth Writers' Prize for best first book in 1993. Her other novels include The Ghosts of Vasu Master (1994), When Dreams Travel (1999), In Times of Siege (2003), and Fugitive Histories (2009). She has also published a highly acclaimed short story collection, The Art of Dying, and a book of stories for children, The Winning Team. Her essays and fiction have also been included in anthologies such as Salman Rushdie's Mirrorwork: 50 Years of Indian Writing 1947-1997. She lives in New Delhi.