UNTOUCHABLE: The Autobiography of an Indian Outcaste by Hazari
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UNTOUCHABLE: The Autobiography of an Indian Outcaste

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The pseudonymous author grew up as an untouchable in Imperial India when the first calls to self-determination and self-fulfillment were sounded, challenging Indian fatality as much as British control; his is a very personal account, a unique document that is also fascinating for its particulars and involving as the testament of a troubled boy. Not that Hazari sees his childhood as unfortunate: secure in the affections of his family (even of his father's first wife who could not bear children) and in his place in community life (a round of births, marriages and deaths, each ceremoniously observed), taught that the social scheme is sacrosanct and each man's fortune is fated, he does not resent hard work or hunger; but he does note that it is better to work for the caste-unconscious Europeans and that an impressive wedding can impoverish a family for years. Still the bonds of Karma are strong, and it is not until, as head bearer for a British teacher, he comes in contact with university life and with a zealous Moslem student, that he converts to unstratified Islam (with reservations), rejects a prearranged marriage, and sets his own course, leaving, at the book's close, for further study in France. Hazari's impressions of his barren village and luxuriant Aligarh, of near-Himalayan hill stations and idyllic Kashmir, of busy Bombay and sybaritic Lucknow, as well as his experiences as eldest son and community cynosure, as house servant and hotel waiter, add color to a strong, direct narrative.

Pub Date: Feb. 20th, 1969
Publisher: Lamb