NEW KINGS OF THE WORLD by Fatima Bhutto
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NEW KINGS OF THE WORLD

Dispatches From Bollywood, Dizi, and K-pop
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KIRKUS REVIEW

A probing look at some of the shifting tides of global culture.

Having borne witness to the throes of political upheaval in her birth country of Pakistan, journalist and novelist Bhutto (The Runaways, 2018, etc.) here explores the local roots and global impact of three contemporary pop-culture game-changers: Bollywood (India), dizi (Turkey), and K-pop (South Korea). Many American readers may be surprised to learn that what’s entertaining much of the rest of the world no longer hails from Hollywood or New York but rather India, Turkey, and South Korea. In this engaging study, the author convincingly asserts that American dominance of popular culture was “facilitated by massive migration to urban areas, the rise of the middle class across the Global South, and increased connectivity”—not to mention “American military might.” Though American pop culture may have resonated with “a Third World elite,” Bhutto argues that “villagers uprooted from their homes and cultures and living in the crowded outskirts of big cities took no comfort in Sex and the City or the twangy music of Britney Spears. Instead, they turned to the products of Indian, Turkish, and Korean pop culture, whose more conservative values better aligned with “this majority’s self-image and aspirations.” Such vast, rapid urbanization, writes the author, marks a “journey from tradition to modernity…accompanied by profound turbulence” and resulting in “a geography without anchors, full of sexual and material deprivations, injustices, and inequalities.” In the wake of such global sea changes, Bhutto investigates where millions today find their cultural moorings and why. Though focusing extensively on Bollywood’s politically rooted narrative transformations and the meteoric rise of its biggest star, Shah Rukh Khan, the author also traces and analyzes the appeal of dizi—sweeping, two-plus–hour soap opera–like TV epics often adapted from Turkish literary classics—and concludes with a fascinating look at K-pop’s highly stylized production and enormous Western influence.

Witty and packed with detail, this is an intercultural shot that should be heard around the world.

Pub Date: Sept. 24th, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-73362-370-4
Page count: 150pp
Publisher: Columbia Global Reports
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 2019




Kirkus Interview
Fatima Bhutto
April 14, 2015

Set during the American invasion of Afghanistan, Fatima Bhutto’s debut novel The Shadow of the Crescent Moon begins and ends one rain-swept Friday morning in Mir Ali, a small town in Pakistan’s Tribal Areas close to the Afghan border. Three brothers meet for breakfast. Soon after, the eldest, Aman Erum, recently returned from America, hails a taxi to the local mosque. Sikandar, a doctor, drives to the hospital where he works, but must first stop to collect his troubled wife, who has not joined the family that morning. No one knows where Mina goes these days. But when, later in the morning, the two are taken hostage by members of the Taliban, Mina will prove to be stronger than anyone could have imagined. Our reviewer writes that The Shadow of the Crescent Moon is “a timely, earnest portrait of a family torn apart by the machinations of other people’s war games and desperately trying to survive.” View video >

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