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The Lives of Others (Anglais) Broché – 8 janvier 2015

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Descriptions du produit

Revue de presse

"Masterful … His fierce intelligence and sophisticated storytelling combine to produce an unforgettable portrait of one family riven by the forces of history and their own desires." (Patrick Flanery Daily Telegraph)

"Rich and engrossing … Consistently vivid and well realised, it confidently covers a great deal of varied social terrain. … Unfailingly interesting" (Theo Tait Sunday Times)

"Very ambitious and very successful. … One of Mukherjee's great gifts is precisely his capacity to imagine the lives of others. … Neel Mukherjee terrifies and delights us simultaneously" (A S Byatt Guardian)

"Deeply affecting and ambitious ... In startling imagery that sears itself into the mind, The Lives of Others excellently exposes the gulf between rich and poor, young and old, tradition and modernity, us and them, showing how acts of empathy are urgently needed to bridge the divides." (Anita Sethi Observer)

"Neel Mukherjee has written an outstanding novel: compelling, compassionate and complex, vivid, musical and fierce." (Rose Tremain)

"Full of acute, often uncomfortable and angry, observations, The Lives of Others is a picture of a family in all its disunity, and beyond it a city and country, on the brink of disaster." (The Times)

"A Seth-ian narrative feast with dishes to spare ... a graphic reminder that the bourgeois Indian culture western readers so readily idealize is sustained at terrible human cost" (Patrick Gale Independent)

"Expansive and often brilliant… Mukherjee spares the reader nothing…yet his command of storytelling is so astounding, he draws the reader into places they would prefer not to look" (Claire Allfree Metro)

"The writing is unfailingly beautiful … Resembles a tone poem in its dazzling orchestration of the crescendo of domestic racket. His eye is as acute as his ear: the physicality of people and objects is delineated with a hyper-aesthetic vividness …." (Jane Shilling New Statesman)

"Neel Mukherjee has given us a picture of India that cuts through history, social classes and regions but centers on a nouveau pauvre family. Every scene is rendered with a Tolstoyan clarity and compassion." (Edmund White)

"A devastating portrayal of a decadent society and the inevitably violent uprising against it, in the tradition of such politically charged Indian literature as the work of Prem Chand, Manto and Mulk Raj Anand. It is ferocious, unsparing and brutally honest." (Anita Desai)

"Brilliant" (Alexander Gilmour FT)

"Powerful… Mukherjee’s depiction of the tangled system…that develops when so many members of a family live under one roof is superb… In clear yet lyrical prose, Mukherjee carefully explores not just what it means to be part of a family, but what it means to be part of an unequal society… It’s impossible not to be utterly engaged by this intelligent and moving epic" (Anna Carey Sunday Business Post)

"Compelling, affecting, intelligent and surprising… Bold and striking… Worked out with precision and gracefulness… Ambitious and eloquent, and in forgoing exoticism captures genuine humanity" (Stuart Kelly Scotland on Sunday)

"The Lives of Others is searing, savage and deeply moving: an unforgettably vivid picture of a time of turmoil." (Amitav Ghosh (www.amitavghosh.com/blog))

Présentation de l'éditeur

***Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize***

***Shortlisted for the Costa Novel Award***

***Winner of the Encore Award***

***Longlisted for the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature***

***Longlisted for the IMPAC Prize***

Calcutta, 1967. Unnoticed by his family, Supratik has become dangerously involved in extremist political activism. Compelled by an idealistic desire to change his life and the world around him, all he leaves behind before disappearing is a note.

At home, his family slowly begins to unravel. Poisonous rivalries grow, the once-thriving family business implodes and destructive secrets are unearthed. And all around them the sands are shifting as society fractures, for this is a moment of turbulence, of inevitable and unstoppable change.

‘Deeply moving’ Amitav Ghosh

‘Terrifies and delights’ A S Byatt, Guardian

‘Unforgettable’ Daily Telegraph

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Amazon.com: 80 commentaires
67 internautes sur 69 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Mind expanding 27 juillet 2014
Par Catherina Gere - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
This is the most devastating, unsentimental novel I have ever read. It begins with a short ferocious prologue, delineating one extreme of poverty and desperation, before the main narrative drops the reader into the doings of a privileged middle-class family in Calcutta. Only as you read on, do you come to understand how the two are connected. A quick word of warning: like the great Russian novels that this work somewhat resembles, the protagonists have multiple, complicated names. I urge readers to make use of the family tree at the beginning and the explanation of Bengali naming conventions at the end, in order to get a grip on the cast of characters. The payoff will be huge. The author's imagination and his unsparing compassion will give you insight into 'the lives of others' whom you might never otherwise begin to understand. This is mind expanding, morally serious, life changing stuff. It is why we need literature.
28 internautes sur 28 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
"...the supreme acoustics of Bengali life" 16 juillet 2014
Par Sue Kichenside - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Format Kindle
In The Lives of Others, Neel Mukherjee takes a more than averagely dysfunctional family and employs it as a metaphor for the State and the state of West Bengal in the late 1960s. Patriarch Prafullanath, his children Adinath, Priyonath, venomous unmarriageable Chhaya, Bholanath, late addition Somnath, and grandchildren, revolutionary Supratik, Suranjan, Baishakhi, Arunima, maths prodigy Sona and shy Kalyani. Thank goodness for the (frequently referred to) family tree at the outset; even so, the cast of characters is confusing, what with pet names, prefixes, relational terms and so forth.

There is also some confusion, it must be said, with the arrangement of this narrative. The reader is dropped into the Ghosh family home from the height of the top-floor terrace where 16-year old Baishakhi is carrying on a roof-top flirtation with the boy next door. Mukherjee takes us down through the various levels of the big house in which all the Ghoshes live and as he gradually reveals the family members' back-stories, we come to understand the pecking order, the beefs and jealousies, the blood bonds and the blood-boiling bust-ups.

In alternate chapters (set in different type), first grandson Supratik, conducts a correspondence with an unknown party. He has rejected his comfortable, middle-class upbringing to become a left-wing political activist. Leaving a note for his inconsolable mother, he disappears into the villages of remote rural districts where he and his band of comrades hope to harness the hunger of the peasant class to ignite an uprising.

This is a powerful story, complex in the telling. It may take a little time to get into and the shifting focus may make for a rather more challenging read than usual, but this book is rewarding on many levels, not least for its specific regional vantage point. Neel Mukherjee conveys his underlying message with unflinching authority but he is also capable of wry humour as demonstrated in his amiably-written glossary at the end of the book. (Just wish I'd known it was there sooner!)
17 internautes sur 18 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
A big, heart stopping book 22 août 2014
Par Umita R Venkataraman - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
This is a political novel in its true sense although at times it might seem like an Indian family drama. It’s not really a drama either. It is a grand Bengali opera - with many voices and several acts and the inevitable tragic ending. ‘The Lives of Others’ brings together many spheres: the Naxalite movement, corrupt, greedy landlords and the plight of the landless farmers, corporate greed and the displacement of tribals... In its pages lurk drought and famine and eight course Bengali feasts. Mukherjee describes in loving detail a shaat lahari haar (a necklace with seven strands) as he does the grinding poverty of the migrant workers and the emotional wreckage of a girl pushed aside by society because of her dark skin. Nothing escapes his scrutiny.

This is a novel of ascension after loss and gradual decline and fall. The Ghosh family is on the slippery slope as the political climate in India and indeed, Bengal brings storm clouds. Slip ups in parenting lead to children going astray and a tangled mess of relationships. The book soars elegantly through the magic of prime numbers and Euclidean mathematics and plunges into the extraordinary violence of beheading of people with sickles.

Readers who are familiar with Bengali culture will glide through this book. Others might find it a bit of a struggle because the author uses the Bengali form of address throughout the book and you'll need to quickly figure out who's who for a smooth sail. But investing a bit of effort will yield rich rewards because this is a big, heart stopping book.
14 internautes sur 15 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Refreshing & Engaging! 13 juillet 2014
Par b00k r3vi3ws - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
The Lives of Others narrates the story of one Supratik and his family, set in the 1960s Calcutta. This is the era when the Naxalite were terrorizing and changing the lives of many. While Supratik's family is struggling with a crumbling business, his concern is more focused towards improving the lives of the poor through communist ideals. So of course there is a clash of ideals and thoughts within the family. How does Supratik handle things? What steps would he take?

The title itself is intriguing and very apt for the scenario. We Indians have a tendency to evaluate and judge the Lives of others never mind the status of our own. Through the protagonist, Supratik, the author probably tells the story of hundred other youngsters of the time. He is a strong character with a mind of his own and the will to follow through his ideals. Besides, him the other characters may feel a bit dull though they each bring in their own flavours to the novel. I especially enjoyed reading about the nuances of a Bengali family that is so typical that made me feel like I know Supratik's family. Then there is the matter of author's depiction of the Naxalite band and their effect - of the violence of that era. He has handled it with as much honesty as about the rest of the things in the book.

Overall a refreshingly well narrated story of all things Bengali, with s strong plot (and sub-plots) that will keep the reader engaged throughout.
25 internautes sur 31 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Sometimes life really is too short... 11 octobre 2014
Par FictionFan - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Format Kindle
This is the story of a large, extended family all living under one roof in Calcutta, and of one of the children of the family who becomes a Marxist agitator following the Naxalbari incident. I abandoned it at the halfway point - sometimes life really is too short. Fellow Amazon reviewer 'Mister Hobgoblin' has described it as 'Like The Lowland, but twice as long and half as good' and I think that's a perfect description. And I thought The Lowland was pretty underwhelming...

There are about twenty characters in the family and the book jumps about between them in a fairly random fashion. The timeline also varies and it's often not made clear what period we're in, though the main storyline seems to be the one set in the '60s. Combine this confusion with the fact that the author (probably realistically) uses three or more different variations of name for each character and frankly the book becomes extremely hard to follow. There is a family tree at the beginning, but I really expect authors to be skilled enough to keep me informed without me constantly having to break off to go consult charts, or look up the glossary of endless Indian words that are included in this book which is supposedly written in English (by an Indian born/English resident author).

But I would have been willing to make the effort to plough through the book if the story were interesting, the writing beautiful or the characters enjoyable to spend time with. Unfortunately that's not the case. The story is simply an observation of this unpleasant family that goes on and on in endless detail but never actually heads anywhere. The exception to this is the strand about the budding terrorist. Cut in at the end of chapters, this strand is told as a series of extracts from letters he sends to an unnamed person, possibly a lover - at the point I abandoned it we still don't know. Here we learn all about the lives of the rural poor, but from a distance - we never actually get to know any of the poor, just this angst-ridden middle-class Marxist's interpretation of them, liberally sprinkled with a regurgitation of Marxist theory - at great length.

The quality of the writing is fine - neither particularly bad nor good. Occasional passages are well written and there's no doubt he gives a very, very, very detailed picture of everything he describes (including lots and lots of abstruse mathematical theories - well, he obviously knew them, so why not put them in?). In my review of The Goldfinch, I quipped that Donna Tartt had obviously bought a couple of enormous economy sized bags of words and used them all - Mukherjee has obviously been to the same shop. I saw him being interviewed about the book on the BBC News channel and when asked about the length of the book he replied that he wanted the book to be 'densely rendered' (Good news! It is!) and that if people were paying £17 for the hardback he felt they should get their money's worth. Personally, I'd prefer to pay for quality rather than quantity. He also said that he thought even Indian people would find it hard to really understand the 'Bengali-ness' that he is apparently trying to portray - I guess therefore it's understandable that this Scot struggled to feel engaged.

The real flaw in the book though is that, out of this huge cast of characters, there isn't a single one who is likeable, engaging or even particularly interesting. The family on the whole dislike each other and that I did find understandable, since I disliked them all. We have bullying of children, animal cruelty, incest (or as good as), and sexual perversion of the most ridiculous kind about which it has been my misfortune to read. We have some members of the family being treated as second-class citizens within the home, sibling rivalry taken to extremes, obnoxious wives battling for domestic supremacy, servants being treated as badly as servants usually are, and beggars being turned away at the door to starve. Two weeks in this family and I'd have become a Marxist terrorist myself, I think.

I said it when I was reviewing Rohinton Mistry's A Fine Balance and I'll say it again - I do not believe that India is this unrelievedly awful. The problem with unmitigated misery is that it becomes numbing after a while - there has to be something to contrast it with if it's going to have an emotional impact. Or alternatively it has to be written so beautifully that the words themselves become the point. All of these people are so deeply unpleasant that this reader couldn't care less what happened to them. In fact, I was rather hoping for an alien invasion to brighten things up.

In truth, this probably deserves about three stars for the writing and descriptions but, since I found it such a dismal, tedious and ultimately pointless read that I couldn't bring myself to finish it, I feel I have no option but to put it in the 1-star slot. It's been shortlisted for the Booker, of course...

NB This book was provided for review by the publisher, Random House Vintage.
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