The Weary Generations ($36.95; Sept. 3; 334 pp.; 0-7206-1062-1). This prizewinning 1963 novel, originally written in Urdu by its Indian-born author, is a leisurely, vividly dramatic chronicle of the first half-century of India's modern history. The appealing protagonist Naim is a peasant's son who grows up dazzled by the glamour and sophistication of the British Raj, fights for Great Britain in WWI (and loses an arm), is swept up after the war into pro-Muslim (and anti-British) political activity and subsequently imprisoned, and wins, then loses the love of the beautiful high-born girl he hopefully marries. In a devastating stroke of climactic irony, when Independence arrives in 1947, Naim finds himself again "imprisoned" by his caste and his loyalties: a man without a country whose fate is, paradoxically, a mirror image of India's own. Altogether, a brilliant work: one of the great fictional portrayals of the Raj and a sobering, very moving human document.
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