In the summer of 1999, while the Kargil War was being fought, Amitava Kumar married a Pakistani Muslim. That event led to a process of discovery that made Kumar examine the relationship not only between India and Pakistan but also between Hindus and Muslims inside India. The result is this fiercely personal essay on the idea of the enemy. Written with complete honesty and with no claims to journalistic detachment, this book chronicles the complicity that binds the writer to the rioter. Unlike both the fundamentalists and the secularists, Kumar finds-or makes-utterly human those whom he opposes. More than a travelogue which takes the reader to Wagah, Patna, Bhagalpur, Karachi, Kashmir, and even Johannesburg, this book, then, becomes a portrait of the people the author meets in these places, people dealing with the consequences of the politics of faith. With a writer's eye for detail, Kumar has drawn a map of violence. Informed more by a traveller's sense of observation than a safe, academic moralism, Husband of a Fanatic refuses to monumentalize suffering-instead, it presents tragedy as ordinary, and hence, more difficult to accept easily. In a village beside the Ganges near Bhagalpur, in a psychiatric ward in Srinagar, in a classroom in Ahmedabad ... everywhere that the author goes, the reader is compelled to accompany him on a journey to the heart of hatred.
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