Namit Arora, "Indians: A Brief History of a Civilization" (Viking, 2021)


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We can sometimes forget that “India”—or the idea of a single unified entity—is not a very old concept. Indian history is complicated and convoluted: different societies, polities and cultures rise and fall, ebb and flow, as the political makeup of South Asia changes.

Namit Arora, author of Indians: A Brief History of a Civilization (Penguin Viking, 2021), details some of these changing cultures. From the early Harappans, to the Buddhist centers of Nagarjunakonda and Nalanda, and ending at Varanasi, Arora takes his readers on a journey through South Asia’s rich and diverse history.

Namit Arora chose a life of reading and writing after cutting short his career in the Internet industry. Raised in the Hindi belt of India, he lived in Louisiana, the San Francisco Bay Area and Western Europe, and travelled in scores of countries before returning to India over two decades later in 2013. He is the author of The Lottery of Birth (Three Essays Collective: 2017), a collection of essays, and the novel Love and Loathing in Silicon Valley (Speaking Tiger Publishing Pvt Ltd: 2019). More details here.

In this interview, Namit and I talk about the many different cultures featured in his book Indians. We share the stories of some of India’s illustrious foreign visitors, and what it was like for Namit to research these lost histories.

You can find more reviews, excerpts, interviews, and essays at The Asian Review of Books, including its review of Indians. Follow on Facebook or on Twitter at @BookReviewsAsia.

Nicholas Gordon is an associate editor for a global magazine, and a reviewer for the Asian Review of Books. He can be found on Twitter at @nickrigordon.

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