Monday, September 13, 2010

Indian thugs in a new light

An Indian thug's story set in London by poet-novelist Tabish Khair attempts to deconstruct the traditional mystical and often incorrect notion of India, particularly the 'cult of thugee,' made infamous through various western narratives.

The Thing about Thugs by Khair explores the underbelly of Victorian London which he says resembles in a way the disparity of wealth in contemporary India as well as tells a story through an Indian perspective rather than relying on one sided British representation of oriental backwardness and barbarity."The book is a bit of a crime thriller which is an attempt on how to tell people (outside India) stories about us. It is a 19th century idea about how people connect across distance and space," Khair told PTI during his visit here recently.

Delving into the nineteenth century literature ranging from Charles Dickens to P M Taylor's Confessions of a Thug and Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, Khair writes the fictional tale of Amir Ali a thug who leaves his village in Bihar to travel to London with an English captain, William Meadows, to whom he narrates the story of his life - the story of a murderous thug.While Meadows tries to analyse the strange cult of the Indian Thug, a group of Englishmen sets out to prove the inherent difference between cultures and people by examining their skulls - with bizarre consequences.

Full report here IBNLive

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