Date Published: January 17, 2018
Source: Penguin Random House Review Copy
Goodreads Synopsis: Auroville has a reputation as a cosmopolitan, spiritual township, but it remains an enigma to outside observers. What is life really like in the community? What do its residents believe in, and what are they aspiring toward? This anthology of writing from the community, edited by a long-time resident and representing forty-odd authors from around the world, seeks to shed light not only on Auroville’s ideals but also on its lived reality. The polyphonic narratives in this eclectic collection-including fiction, essays, poetry and drama-capture something of the dreams, hopes, disappointments and sheer hard work that make up this complex, layered and constantly evolving place.
Enlivened by cartoons and accompanied by rare archival photographs, Auroville: Dream and Reality is a view from the inside of this remarkable experiment in communal and intentional living.
My View: Auroville. I had no idea this was a community in itself until a couple of years back. I only knew it as a tourist destination near Pondicherry and that I wasn’t able to visit it on my last visit to Pondicherry a few years ago. However, this book! There was a reason I asked to read and review it. I was intrigued by this whole community in itself. And technology be damned, I am just not the kind of person to google to satisfy her curiosity. Give me a book any day and I am happy. Especially this being an anthology helped.
The book unravels Auroville like I believe has never been done before. From where it all began to why and how, to what has actually turned up, it’s a journey in itself over the years. The anthology gives a plethora of information, lived experiences, pictures to feast your eyes on, and a deeper knowledge of Auroville, its inhabitants, their relationships with others, Auroville, and themselves.
The book is not merely all essays but also prose, poetry, even cartoons. There are love stories with sad endings and relationships that began and those that broke. There is the mission, the dream behind Auroville and the reality that it is, today. The book is raw, replete with truth, hiding nothing, being the way it is.
‘Auroville: Dream and Reality’ has quenched my thirst for walking in its labyrinths of passages and unveiling it like a new bride. I do wish to step into this world of its own, someday. Never to stay but always to visit and see it with my own eyes.
Akash Kapur has done a brilliant job collecting the material for this book. No wonder it has taken him 10 years to do it! But it’s all worth it. A must read for those interested in the magic and mystery of the place called Auroville where people from 45 countries reside together in a jumble of languages but aspiring to abide by the Mother’s mission.
Akash Kapur is an Indo-American journalist and author. He is the author of a non-fiction book titled India Becoming, which was selected by The New Yorker and The New Republic as a Best Book of 2012; by Newsweek as one of its three Must Reads on Modern India; and by the New York Times Book Review as an “Editors’ Choice.” The book was short listed for the Shakti Bhatt prize, and an episode from the book was also excerpted in The New Yorker magazine.
Thanks to Penguin Random House for the review copy. All opinions expressed are my own and unbiased.