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Nine Lives: In Search of the Sacred in Modern India by William Dalrymple
Nine Lives tells the story of nine different people in India, all clinging to ancient mysticism or religious rituals. These include a goatherd from Rajasthan who keeps alive an ancient four-thousand-stanza sacred epic in his memory, a sex worker dedicated as a girl to the goddess Yellama and who wants to bring her daughters into the trade, a low-caste prison warden who is worshipped as an incarnate deity for three months of every year, an idol carver, from a 700-year line of sculptors, whose son wants to be a computer engineer, and a Buddhist monk who took up arms against the Chinese and now hand prints prayer flags as penance. William Dalrymple's book has received mostly positive reviews with the Christian Science Monitor saying, "Much of this book is in reported speech with the frame provided by the author's lyrical descriptions of the Indian landscape and deceptively simple explanations of the historical and social context. It's a technique unusual in American nonfiction narrative, but one that serves its subjects beautifully."