Every morning in Sadar Bazaar, one of the oldest markets in Delhi, a gang of men gather looking for work in the building trade. For five years, Aman Sethi shared their lives, and in particular that of Mohammed Ashraf. Ashraf is a mazdoor, an itinerant house-painter, but he's not a typical labourer - he's studied biology in college, and after college learnt how to repair TV sets, cut suits, and slice chicken. He lived all over India, but now he finds himself in Delhi: the second most populous city in the country. The morning will bring hangovers, whisky breakfasts and possibly answers to the lingering questions that haunt Ashraf. How did he get here? Why is he the way he is? And is there a way back home?
One of the very best young journalists in India, Aman Sethi brings Ashraf vividly alive and illuminates the lives of countless others like him. Wry, humorous and insightful, A Free Man is an unforgettable portrait of an invisible man in his invisible city, and an extraordinary human story.
A Free Man is a brilliant capturing of the language and bloodstream of a city. Aman Sethi has made a book that's remarkable in its voice and evocation.
Fascinating, funny and extraordinarily moving.
Funny and disturbing.
A deeply moving, funny, and brilliantly written account from one of India’s most original new voices.
A Free Man is a beautiful work of journalism, sympathetic and graceful. The author follows, and progressively befriends, a homeless day laborer in Delhi. What starts as classic ethnography becomes a gripping story, and ends as a homage to a lost friend.