Books

Age of Anger

Pankaj Mishra

'Urgent, profound and extraordinarily timely...throws light on our contemporary predicament, when the neglected and dispossessed of the world have suddenly risen up to transform the world we thought we knew' John Banville

How can we explain the origins of the great wave of paranoid hatreds that seem inescapable in our close-knit world - from American 'shooters' and ISIS to Trump, from a rise in vengeful nationalism across the world to racism and misogyny on social media? In Age of Anger, Pankaj Mishra answers our bewilderment by casting his gaze back to the eighteenth century, before leading us to the present.

He shows that as the world became modern those who were unable to fulfil its promises - freedom, stability and prosperity - were increasingly susceptible to demagogues. The many who came late to this new world or were left, or pushed, behind, reacted in horrifyingly similar ways: intense hatred of invented enemies, attempts to re-create an imaginary golden age, and self-empowerment through spectacular violence. It was from among the ranks of the disaffected that the militants of the 19th century arose - angry young men who became cultural nationalists in Germany, messianic revolutionaries in Russia, bellicose chauvinists in Italy, and anarchist terrorists internationally.

Today, just as then, the wider embrace of mass politics, technology, and the pursuit of wealth and individualism has cast many more millions adrift in a literally demoralized world, uprooted from tradition but still far from modernity - with the same terrible results

Making startling connections and comparisons, Age of Anger is a book of immense urgency and profound argument. It is a history of our present predicament unlike any other.

From the Ruins of Empire

Pankaj Mishra

Pankaj Mishra's provocative account of how China, India and the Muslim World are remaking the world in their own image - shortlisted for the Orwell Prize 2013

SHORTLISTED FOR THE ORWELL PRIZE 2013

Viewed in the West as a time of self-confident progress, the Victorian period was experienced by Asians as a catastrophe. As the British gunned down the last heirs to the Mughal Empire or burned down the Summer Palace in Beijing, it was clear that for Asia to recover a new way of thinking was needed. Pankaj Mishra re-tells the history of the past two centuries, showing how a remarkable, disparate group of thinkers, journalists, radicals and charismatics emerged from the ruins of empire to create an unstoppable Asian renaissance, one whose ideas lie behind everything from the Chinese Communist Party to the Muslim Brotherhood, and have made our world what it is today.

Reviews:

'Arrestingly original ... this penetrating and disquieting book should be on the reading list of anybody who wants to understand where we are today' John Gray, Independent

'A riveting account that makes new and illuminating connections ... deeply entertaining and deeply humane' Hisham Matar

'Fascinating ... a rich and genuinely thought-provoking book' Noel Malcolm, Sunday Telegraph

'Provocative, shaming and convincing' Michael Binyon, The Times

'Lively ... engaging ... retains the power to shock' Mark Mazower, Financial Times

'Subtle, erudite and entertaining' Economist, New Delhi

About the author:

Pankaj Mishra is the author of Butter Chicken in Ludiana, The Romantics, An End to Suffering and Temptations of the West. He writes principally for the Guardian, The New York Times, London Review of Books and New York Review of Books. He lives in London, Shimla and New York.

A Passage to India

E M Forster (and others)

Exploring issues of colonialism, faith and the limits of comprehension, E.M. Forster's A Passage to India is edited by Oliver Stallybrass, with an introduction by Pankaj Mishra.

When Adela Quested and her elderly companion Mrs Moore arrive in the Indian town of Chandrapore, they quickly feel trapped by its insular and prejudiced 'Anglo-Indian' community. Determined to escape the parochial English enclave and explore the 'real India', they seek the guidance of the charming and mercurial Dr Aziz, a cultivated Indian Muslim. But a mysterious incident occurs while they are exploring the Marabar caves with Aziz, and the well-respected doctor soon finds himself at the centre of a scandal that rouses violent passions among both the British and their Indian subjects. A masterly portrait of a society in the grip of imperialism, A Passage to India compellingly depicts the fate of individuals caught between the great political and cultural conflicts of the modern world.

In his introduction, Pankaj Mishra outlines Forster's complex engagement with Indian society and culture. This edition reproduces the Abinger text and notes, and also includes four of Forster's essays on India, a chronology and further reading.

E. M. Forster (1879-1970) was a noted English author and critic and a member of the Bloomsbury group. His first novel, Where Angels Fear To Tread appeared in 1905. The Longest Journey appeared in 1907, followed by A Room With A View (1908), based partly on the material from extended holidays in Italy with his mother. Howards End (1910) was a story that centred on an English country house and dealt with the clash between two families, one interested in art and literature, the other only in business. Maurice was revised several times during his life, and finally published posthumously in 1971.

If you enjoyed A Passage to India, you might like Rudyard Kipling's Kim, also available in Penguin Classics.

'His great book ... masterly in its presence and its lucidity'
Anita Desai

Biography

Pankaj Mishra was born in North India in 1969 and is the author of The Romantics: A Novel and An End to Suffering: The Buddha in the World.