In her book City of Gold: The Biography of Bombay, Gillian Tindal evoked an image of a nascent city, a tangle of masonry, bazaar and tram lines forging into the swamp. In books set in more recent times (India: A Million Mutinies Now, Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found, Shantaram, Bombay and Mumbai: The City In Transition), we see a proud metropolis hollowed out by desperation, violent self assertion and crime. For a sense of how ordinary people, rich, poor and middle class, negotiate this turbulent landscape, we have the writings of Salman Rushdie, Rohinton Mistry, Vikram Chandra, Anita Desai, Amit Chaudhuri, Manil Suri and a host of less widely celebrated but much beloved local authors and poets. This treasure trove notwithstanding, one feels, there is still much to be said, much more to be understood about this great and complex city. And it is with pleasant anticipation that one greets Gyan Prakash’s Mumbai Fables.
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