The Way Things Were

The Way Things Were Skanda s father Toby has died estranged from Toby s mother and from the India he loved Skanda is tasked with fulfilling Toby s final wish and returning his ashes to his birthplace It is a journey t

  • Title: The Way Things Were
  • Author: Aatish Taseer
  • ISBN: 9781447272724
  • Page: 101
  • Format: Paperback
  • Skanda s father, Toby, has died, estranged from Toby s mother and from the India he loved Skanda is tasked with fulfilling Toby s final wish and returning his ashes to his birthplace It is a journey that takes him from Manhattan to Delhi, and deep into the story of his family in particular, to a night three decades earlier, when an act of shocking violence forced his paSkanda s father, Toby, has died, estranged from Toby s mother and from the India he loved Skanda is tasked with fulfilling Toby s final wish and returning his ashes to his birthplace It is a journey that takes him from Manhattan to Delhi, and deep into the story of his family in particular, to a night three decades earlier, when an act of shocking violence forced his parents fragile marriage apart Set at flashpoints in 1975, 1984, 1992 and the present day, The Way Things Were shows how our most deeply personal stories are shaped by ancient history and volatile politics how the life of a country and the life of an individual are irrevocably entwined Spanning three generations, it is at once intimate and panoramic, with a thrilling ambition that places it alongside such masterpieces as A Suitable Boy and A Fine Balance.

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      Posted by:Aatish Taseer
      Published :2019-06-04T12:14:50+00:00

    About "Aatish Taseer"

    1. Aatish Taseer

      Aatish Taseer has worked as a reporter for Time Magazine and has written for the Sunday Times, the Sunday Telegraph, the Financial Times, Prospect, TAR Magazine and Esquire He is the author of Stranger to History a Son s Journey through Islamic Lands 2009 and a highly acclaimed translation Manto Selected Stories 2008 His novel, The Temple Goers 2010 was shortlisted for the 2010 Costa First Novel Award A second novel, Noon, is now available published by Picador UK and Faber Faber USA His work has been translated into over ten languages He lives between London and Delhi.


    1. The past is a foreign countryWhen Skanda's father dies, it falls to Skanda to accompany his body back to India for the funeral rites. Though at first reluctant to go, once there, Skanda decides to stay on for a while, living in his parents long-empty flat in Delhi. The death of his father and the experience of meeting up with many of the people he knew in childhood leads him to remember and re-assess the recent history of his family, from the period of the Emergency in the mid-70s until the pres [...]

    2. A story transcending the contemporaric notion of time. A story of past to discover and understand who you are while going through the present, facing its dystopic ugliness. A story of a family of elites, of mixed race royals to the political luminaries. A semantic journey through Sanskrit, Greek and Latin, idiosyncratically connected to the 1984 and 1992 riots. A vivid portrait of love, marriage, parenting and divorce with the chronicles of Independent India running in parallel. Aatish Taseer ha [...]

    3. A vicious narrative of the historic events that have shaped India or rather Delhi through the eyes of the drawing room set of the Gandhi dynasty and especially through the puzzled eyes of a kid growing up in that time. Swept up with the chaos of theological agenda and dotted with the unknown beauty of a lost language. A pleasure to read with memorable characters and an especially colourful description of the Delhi of the 70 and 80s. Lovely read.

    4. With Aatish Taseer we encounter a writer whose intellectual power and scope - he knows a breadth of the world, from New York to Kerachi, as intimately as most of us know only our own small lives. And no one, no one conveys setting - seasons of settings - with Taseer's precision and beauty. The Way Things Were, plotted on circular time, seasonal time, so that readers might move from the book's end to its beginnings without too much narrative break, in structure is comparable in its success only t [...]

    5. Once you've read a book cover to cover, there's a sense of loss; but also a sense of learning learning something new or maybe looking at something age old with new eyes. This book is all about India & people who see it in their own unique way. The India of Toby is vastly different from that of Maniraja. Uma's pragmatism is wildly different from her son's sense of aloofness. Different characters so many different perspectives. But, the most interesting of all is the narrative oscillating betw [...]

    6. 'The Way Things Were' is an ode to Sanskrit and a reminder of what it actually means to be a rational Indian This book tells a beautiful bittersweet story of a family against the backdrop of changing phases of Indian politicsAatish Taseer places history in the center and explores the different approaches towards the recorded past and how these approaches affect psyches of people and thus the future of a nation And in all this how we lose the very essence of history which is to learn from our mis [...]

    7. Wow. The experience of reading this book was like getting familiarised with one's past. Of knowing about human nature and its implications on the world around us. Of discovering nothing and everything. To the lay man it will look like a world of shallow, intellectual snobs for whom the reality is limited to drawing room discussions with imported scotch in hand. It was a sense of deja vu, of vacation times when granny would tell us pre partition stories. This book also gave me a glimpse into a si [...]

    8. It took me a long time to get through this because it required a LOT of supplemental reading. I realized I know NOTHING about 20th Century Indian history, so I had no context for many of the events mentioned in the book. It was some very, very interesting reading and I learned a lot. I also loved the parts about how Sanskrit is the mother of all languages and how many Sanskrit words are still in use today in one form or another.My only beef is that the family in the story is rather boring. With [...]

    9. I have read quite a few novels of India so i was looking forward to this one. I got lost after about 5 pages, but plodded on. I lost who was speaking, who was who, where they were (whoever they were)and i lost the plot. I have read Kafka without this much trouble. I must be missing something because many reviewers found it really good.

    10. This book reminded me of many things - its unhurried, leisurely pace reminded of a ghazal concert, the movement to-and-fro in time and the personal/national history mixture reminded a bit of Rushdie. Yet it never became boring or too difficult. And some passages are memorable. The book grows on u.Recommended reading.

    11. A highly addictive book which emphasizes about Sanskrit and Indian culture. The story goes parallel with the contemporary Indian history and the lives of the characters in the novel. The novel is mainly divided into four parts which is related to the Indian history. Beautifully written and the story connects with the historical background of India.

    12. A son is tasked with returning the body of his father, the Maharaja of Kalasuryaketu, to India. The journey will take him halfway around the world, and bring him back in touch with his family. A beautiful look at familial obligation, culture, and facing the past.Tune in to our weekly podcast about all things new books, All The Books: bookriot/category/all-the-

    13. Too much prose, too many words.A great subject but the writer got carried away with his own vocabulary.I really wanted him to go somewhere with the book. I was disappointed.

    14. It's exceedingly rare that I don't finish a book. but got almost 100 pages into this and really didn't care to go any further. it wasn't that is was TERRIBLEjust boring and uninteresting.

    15. “This is part of the beauty of all literature. You discover that your longings are universal longings, that you’re not lonely and isolated from anyone. You belong”. – F. Scott FitzgeraldAs I finished reading this book, and at so many points while reading it, this is the quote that came to my mind, again and again. I am at a loss of words right now, and so full of emotions – I feel like I wanna go to a corner and burst into tears. What this book has narrated to me, seems like a part of [...]

    16. This novel published last year is certainly one of the best books that I have read by an Indian writer . When some events in the country from the recent past are part of the narrative, one is naturally curious to see the author's perspective. Important events like the Emergency in 1975, the anti-Sikh riots in 1984, and the demolition of the mosque in 1992,- all these form a backdrop to the story in this novel.The Way Things Were tries to take an honest and intelligent look at the political and s [...]

    17. Utterly disappointed. 53% in and I don't think I can be more patient. Characters almost always seem to launch into long winded monologues about life, it's purpose and all that shit. The story seems to be going nowhere. The plot seemed so interesting from the description but by now I'm convinced there's probably no real development ahead. All that Sanskrit is interesting in bits but after a while gets too redundant. It almost always used as fillers for every scene - every party, every conversatio [...]

    18. At times overly theatrical but always both emotionally and intellectually engrossing, Taseer's second novel is an impressive feat. For 568 pages, the author steadily leads us through a lyrical rumination on a family's development over time, geographies and language. The characters are beautifully built out, and that includes Sanskrit and India's history. What may initially seem esoteric about this novel is easily and beautifully unpacked by Taseer and his protagonists without being dumbed down, [...]

    19. Wow. What a complicated, high culture, lofty (in the best and most self critical way) wonderful book. It's a spiral narrative of a man's life beginning with his death, and through the lens of his Sanskritist son. The narrative form is justified within the book itself as how stories happen, in our culture. Circular, and not necessarily logical in terms of space, time or even relevance. Of course Taseer is much more charming and can say all of this so it blows your mind and you understand and feel [...]

    20. It's rare for me to not finish a book, but this is two in a row. After about 60 pages, this novel, set mostly in India about a father & son, both Sanskrit scholars, has failed to capture my interest, so I'm setting it aside.

    21. Picked after skimming various reviews out there, I decided to give this book a try. Although I was not much too familiar with the author before reading this book, I have lately decided to peruse and explore new contemporary writings on Modern India and this is the first book that caught my attention.A rather ambitious novel, the author ends up doing justice to both the content and the language which has a lyrical and poetic quality to it. The book operates at three levels: Juxtaposition of the d [...]

    22. Awful Page 3 style tattle of socialites who stoically face the ups and downs of their privileged lives with a drink in one hand and a smart repartee on the other hand . All this while 2 Sanskrit scholars (father and Son) struggle to reconcile modern India with Kalidasa's India. They find that what is left of Kalidasa's India has been appropriated by right wing nutters. No really ? And all this over 600 pages!I must be a sucker for a few Sanskrit phrases strewn around the book.

    23. Skanda, a Sanskrit scholar, travels from Manhattan to Switzerland to be at the deathbed of his father, Toby, a former maharaja of an Indian state, who chose a Western academic life. Upon Toby’s demise, Skanda is entrusted to accompany the body alone to India for the funeral. Neither Toby’s former wife, Uma, Skanda’s mother, nor his present wife, Sylvia, wishes to be at the cremation. Later, in posh Lutyens’ Delhi, Skanda decides to stay on awhile in his ancestral home. There he has the o [...]

    24. This is one of the best books for 2015 that I have read. I cannot believe that it was not nominated for Booker Prize. I was very lucky to discover it in one of the reviews for another book."When culture dies, its slogans grow louder, it cliches become like articles of faith". The story is about Toby, a Sanskritist. I did not know that such a term existed. His love for the language makes him believe that as the culture in India gets to breathe and grow after years of colonialism, it will discover [...]

    25. A noble failure. Found Taseer juggling too many balls: the rot within the political class, present linguistic anaemia, cultural amnesia, colonial hangover ie almost all of his woes with contemporary Indian State of Affairs hamfisted into monologues by characters who are not given any room to grow other than their yawn-inducing earnestness to enlighten willing characters and (un)willing readers. After a while, the way politically-loaded conservations are contrived into situations and happenstance [...]

    26. A beautifully crafted book that combines a strong idea with a strong narrative. The idea is that of the timeless wisdom enshrined in India and its culture. The protagonist(s) of the book are scholars of Sanskrit and are steeped in its rich literature. Through a constant backdrop of the beauty of the Sanskrit language and illustrations of cognate etymology, the author expounds the powerful idea that India's culture is far richer, nuanced and inclusive than those who today have hijacked it for the [...]

    27. It was not an easy book for me to read as I am not well versed with philosophy, sanskrit or the political past of India. I have been to Delhi a few times, but mostly in transit, and am totally in the dark about Delhi society and hierarchy. Nevertheless I enjoyed the book as it was the moderate to slow paced soothing read. This book mainly focuses on Toby, a displaced( ? ) prince, his estranged wife Uma who's been living with a crude businessman as if in retaliation, and their son Skanda. Their d [...]

    28. An enlightening, thought provoking and very interesting book that sucks you in from the moment you pick it up. It's an intimate portrait of personal relationships influenced in big and small ways by the changing socio-political landscape in India and a central motif which rests on the cognates and etymological contortions of an ancient language. I have studied Sanskrit in school for 3 years and it's the journey of semantics transcending Greek, Latin, German, Hungarian, Croatian and of course, Sa [...]

    29. This book shouldn't have taken me nearly as long to read as it did. But with the new baby and the new home, I wound up needing at least three weeks more to get through it than it deserved. Perhaps, without the elongated timeframe, I may have been more able to enjoy the incredibly wide swathe of Indian history the book covered. But as it stood, I wound up finding myself completely lost more than once, unclear as to which character we were with and what time period we were in. So yes, it was a goo [...]

    30. Aatish Taseer has lots of potential in non-linear narratives. The Way Things Were holds a lot of promise interspersed in the realms of Linguistics, Stream-of-consciousness, Modernist literature and bouts of dark humour. But what is most promising, is his attention to details towards elucidating the most existential affairs- especially in an Indian context.Whosoever romanticizes the lost glory and the irony that is India, will find a refuge in this magnum opus.

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