Maximum City paperback cover

NEW

> Article on Immigrant Networks in Forbes

> Op-Ed in The New York Times

> Article on the profile of Sonia Gandhi in Time Magazine

 

> Maximum City published in: Australia, India, United Kingdom, and United States

Dutch - French - German - Italian - Spanish

> Article on Brooklyn for The New York Times

> Article on Bollywood for National Geographic

> Op-Ed in the Wall St. Journal on the tsunami

> Profile of Suketu Mehta from The Scotsman

> Rahul Bose on Maximum City

> Q & A with Suketu Mehta from the Brooklyn Rail

> Listen to Suketu Mehta on NPR's 'Fresh Air' with Terry Gross

> Op-Ed on India from the Baltimore Sun

> Essay on Bollywood in the New York Times Magazine

> Read an excerpt from Maximum City
Look for a longer excerpt in the September 2004 issue of Condé Nast Traveler.

> Pico Iyer's essay in Time magazine on Maximum City

> Column from the New Straits Times about Maximum City

> Q&A with Suketu Mehta from the Wall Street Journal Europe

> Interview with the Orlando Weekly

 


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  PRAISE FOR MAXIMUM CITY

Winner, 2005 Kiriyama Prize

Pulitzer Prize Finalist, 2005

Shortlisted for the BBC4 Samuel Johnson Book Prize for Non-Fiction.

Chosen as a Book of the Year for 2004 by The Economist

"Suketu Mehta tells the stories of slum-dwellers, dancing girls, hitmen and poets, all of whom have come to Bombay to make it. With a clear but non-judgmental voice, his is an outstanding tale of the exhilarating city in which he grew up." — The Economist

Chosen as one of the best books of 2004 by Library Journal:

"In Mehta's able hands, Bombay is transformed from a mere flap of earth on India's western coast to a living, breathing character, a shimmering prism refracting the light and lives of its inhabitants. With a journalist's precision and a novelist's descriptive flair, Mehta details the city's gangsters, policemen, go-go dancers, and Bollywood stars. Part travelog, part cultural history, this vibrant portrait is greater than the sum of its parts." Library Journal

Chosen by the San Jose Mercury News as one of the year's best non-fiction books.

Chosen by the Seattle Times as one of the year's best non-fiction books.

Chosen by The Advertiser, Australia, as one of the books of the year.

Chosen as one of the 10 best books of 2004 by India Today.

"Maximum City is one of the best books ever written about any city in the world." —The New Straits Times

"Dazzling and absorbing... Mehta's eye on Bombay reminds me of no one's so much as Balzac's on Paris... He makes virtually any other reporting on India look pallid by comparison, the work of outsiders looking in... Maximum City--gritty and unsentimental, but by its breathtaking boldness and scope a paean to this impossible city--is Mehta's garland for Bombay."—Adam Hochschild, Harper's Magazine

"Maximum City is, in all senses, a revelation... The stories are gripping...amid the squalor, there is wild, wild fun...Mehta's tales, pounding along in the present tense, read like a modern Arabian Nights, only crueller, more poignant, more real... Part memoir, part journalism, part travelogue, Maximum City is a tour de force. Bombay is truly here lost ‹ and found."" —The Times

" This is compulsively readable stuff, the best non-fiction book on India in a couple of decades. V.S. Naipaul covers some of the same terrain, but Mehta's reportage is much richer." — The Financial Times

"Bombay/Mumbai, which is the subject of Suketu Mehta's sprawling, obsessive, splendidly written memoir of a tough-minded, two-year sentimental journey back to the city where he was raised...[Maximum City] may well prove to be the book on India for a generation or so." — America Magazine

"Mr Mehta paints a picture of an India that is so vast, complex and confusing as to defy generalisation, and facing such a terrifying array of problems that it forbids optimism." — The Economist

"Maximum City is narrative reporting at its finest, probably the best work of nonfiction to come out of India in recent years ... The depth of Mehta's evocative and beautiful prose keeps things lively. Indeed, Mehta's most impressive skill lies not in his documentary prowess but in the psychological acuity of his writing: we come away from his encounters feeling we know the inner lives of the people he has depicted. In this sense, Maximum City is more than a consideration of the material limits on urban living; it is a profound meditation on the existential (and even spiritual) longings that persist despite those limits." — Akash Kapur, The New York Times Book Review

"Suketu Mehta's Maximum City is quite extraordinary—he writes about Bombay with an unsparing ferocity born of his love, which I share, for the old pre-Mumbai city which has now been almost destroyed by corruption, gangsterism and neo-fascist politics, its spirit surviving in tiny moments and images which he seizes upon as proof of the survival of hope; and the quality of his investigative reportage, the skill with which he persuades hoodlums and murderers to open up to him, is quite amazing. It's the best book yet written about that great, ruined metropolis, my city as well as his, and it deserves to be very widely read." — Salman Rushdie

"The most riveting and impressive book I've read in months, but also one of the most potentially enduring." —Pico Iyer

"Like a mind-blowing, real-life trip through the streets of Bombay, many thousands of images of beggars, slums, palaces, film stars, murderers, cops and lovers rush forward from the pages of this book, as if competing for a high rupee-yielding prize." —Sydney Morning Herald

"...Maximum City by Suketu Mehta is 542 fleeting pages about a jam-packed but tiny piece of the India puzzle. It is about the maddeningly interesting metropolis of Bombay (or Mumbai, as Hindu political purists insist). It's as pulsating as some Bollywood music video, but it's far more entertaining and informative. And even with his quickly moving and changing story line, Mehta keeps tossing in factoids that make you pause to consider." —The Houston Chronicle

"...this book is a stunning piece of reporting from a place that is modernity's worst nightmare...It is both a superb piece of social anthropology and a chilling exploration of a world where the social contract is rudimentary and the competition at every level is of an intensity unimaginable in the developed world" —The Age

"A beautifully written homage to the city of his boyhood by an award-winning US-based writer who deftly divides Bombay's stories into themes of power, pleasure and passages. When he moved to New York, Mehta writes that he "missed Bombay like an organ of my body." On return visits, he finds "the terrain is littered with memory mines"." —The Australian

"Sprawling, epic, vibrant--and more than a little scary--Maximum City does justice to its monumental subject, the city of Bombay. After 21 years abroad, author Suketu Mehta revisited the city where he lived as a child and spent two years exploring the heights and depths of the crowded and complex metropolis. He interviewed politicians and poets, movie stars and transvestite bar dancers, crusading activists and small-time thugs, and as they tell their fascinating stories, each voice rises clearly above the urban din. Though this book is over 500 pages long, there's not a boring moment as Mehta's sparkling prose and prodigious descriptive powers make the distant city seem as vital to us as the neighborhood in which we live." Four Stars Francine Prose, People Magazine

"In Maximum City, Suketu Mehta has given us a brilliant book. He writes fearlessly about the horror and wonder that is Bombay. One by one, he reveals its multiple personalities: maleficent Bombay, bountiful Bombay, beckoning temptress of hope, manufacturer of despair‹city of dreams and nightmare city. Best of all, reading this book helps one understand why Bombay can be an addiction." — Rohinton Mistry

"Maximum City is a seething, rumbling, deeply compassionate break-dance of a book." — The Hindu

"Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found is much more than a travel book, it is an autopsy of a city that is morally dead. And the Calcutta-born, Bombay-raised Mehta conducts a brilliant examination by exhuming the underworld dons, street thugs, policemen, politicians, judges, movie stars and bar girls of this city, which, by the year 2020, will be the world's most populous, with 28.5 million inhabitants. Mehta has written a stunning hybrid of memoir, travelogue and social inquiry; above all, he has captured the psyche of the city." — The Globe and Mail

"The passions and secrets of the throbbing megalopolis come alive as Suketu Mehta steps into its back alleys and dance bars, its fantasy factories and drawing rooms. The biography of a city that never sleeps... Bombay gets its Boswell, his chronicle as sprawling and enchanting as his subject." — India Today

"Mehta writes with a Victorian novelist's genius for character, detail, and incident, but his voice is utterly modern. Like its subject, this is a sprawling banquet of a book, one of the most intimate and moving portraits of a place I have read."" — Jhumpa Lahiri

"Mehta is an urban ethnographer with an acute sensitivity to the peculiarities of his city...fidelity to his interlocutors, and to their detail and circumstance, as much as the intelligence and brightness of Mehta's own prose, makes Maximum City an extraordinary debut--a debut that will rival Arundhati Roy's in fiction." — The Nation

"The book's focus on the city's dark side, where money, sex, showbusiness and crime meet, mingle and part, has a purpose. There is a core of humanity in the people Mehta meets, which is why the city has not descended into nightmarish anarchy, and how it continues to accommodate newcomers unhesitatingly." — The Independent

"Along with V.S. Naipaul's India: A Million Mutinies Now, Maximum City is probably the greatest non-fiction book written about India." — Akhil Sharma

"The brilliant first book by journalist and fiction writer Suketu Mehta captures (Bombay's) layered quality... Mehta is the best kind of investigative reporter."— Nell Freudenberger, Vogue

"Suketu Mehta, a screenwriter and journalist who now lives in New York but also has lived in Bombay, has written a fascinating book about a distant city that throughout its history has managed to blend very different people and cultures." —The Oakland Daily Press

"Maximum City is at once paean and lament to the megalopolis that Mehta was wrenched from in his formative years, when his family moved West. In this remarkable collection of stories, he observes with the unsullied eye of an inconnu and the familiarity of a homeboy, coupling Pico Iyer-style travelogue with the narrative nuance of fellow dislocated Bombayites Salman Rushdie and Rohinton Mistry."— The Village Voice

"Maximum City is the remarkable debut of a major new Indian writer. Humane and moving, sympathetic but outspoken, it's a shocking and sometimes heartbreaking book, teeming with extraordinary stories. It is unquestionably one of the most memorable non-fiction books to come out of India for many years, and there is little question that it will become the classic study of Bombay." — William Dalrymple

"Like one of Bombay's teeming chawls, Maximum City is part nightmare and part millennial hallucination, filled with detail, drama and a richly varied cast of characters. In his quest to plumb both the grimy depths and radiant heights of the continent that is Bombay, Suketu Mehta has taken travel writing to an entirely new level. This is a gripping, compellingly readable account of a love affair with a city: I couldn't put it down." — Amitav Ghosh

"[Mehta's] sophisticated voice conveys postmodern Bombay with a carefully calibrated balance of wit and outrage, harking back to such great Victorian urban chroniclers as Dickens and Mayhew."— Publisher's Weekly Starred Review

"Suketu Mehta has done the impossible: he has captured the city of Bombay on the page, and done it in technicolor. Like Zola's Paris and the London of Dickens, it will be difficult for me to visit Bombay without thinking of Maximum City and the enormous delight I had when I inhabited its pages." — Abraham Verghese

"Brave, honest, and addictive: Maximum City is narrative non-fiction at its best. Mehta de-exoticizes as he mesmerizes, finding humanity in killers, actresses, and civil servants, and leading us inexorably to the sight of our our own reflections in in the fractured mirror of his great city, Bombay." — Mohsin Hamid

"The mother of all Mumbai books... part personal memoir, part travelogue, part urban history lesson, part nightmare, almost all stunningly written." —Sreenivasan Jain, Time Out Mumbai

"Hobnobbing with professional killers, cops on the edge, bar girls, street poets and Bollywood directors, Mehta paints an intimate portrait of what many consider the city of the future." — The Sacramento Bee

"He gives us a city that "is a mass dream of the peoples of India," and although the dream includes a few nightmares, he makes you never want to wake up." — Shashi Tharoor, LA Times

"What Dickens did for London, what Joseph Mitchell did for New York City, Suketu Mehta has done for Mumbai, (the Indian word for Bombay)...[a] candid, extensive and wholly entertaining portrait.." —San Diego Union-Tribune

"Suketu Mehta, a journalist and fiction writer from Bombay, "the biggest city on the planet" with 14 million people, left the city in 1977. In preparation for this book, subtitled "Bombay Lost and Found," Mehta went back to see how things had changed. He examines the city in unusual ways -- looking at the criminal underworld of rival Muslim and Hindu gangs; a bar dancer who chose the only life available to her after a childhood of poverty; delving into the stories of people who leave the villages for life in the city. He tells numerous stories of the diverse people who live in severe congestion. Mehta writes very well. He personalizes the city by infusing his own story into the narrative -- this could very well become the classic story of Bombay, which the author sees as the megalopolis of the future."Deseret Morning News

"Maximum City is journalism at its best. It is journalism of a kind never seen in India before. For us hacks it ought to become a beacon, a model, a guide book. There are treasure troves of fascinating stories all around us in this country, and Mehta has shown how, with effort and patience, they can be unearthed and presented." — The Week

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