Shadows at Noon: The South Asian Twentieth Century (Hardcover)

Shadows at Noon: The South Asian Twentieth Century By Joya Chatterji Cover Image

Shadows at Noon: The South Asian Twentieth Century (Hardcover)


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A groundbreaking view of South Asian history in the twentieth century that underlines the similarities and intertwined cultures of India and Pakistan
Winner of the 2023 Los Angeles Times Book Prize in History • Longlisted for the 2024 Women’s Prize for Non-Fiction
“Chatterji tells the story of the subcontinent’s recent history in a fluent sweeping arc. . . . Wonderfully enjoyable to read . . . [and] sure to become a classic.”—William Dalrymple, The Guardian
This radically original and ambitious history of the Indian subcontinent explores the region’s unique twentieth-century history and foregrounds the deep connections, rather than the well-publicized fissures, between the cultures of India and Pakistan.
Taking the partitions of British India rather than the two world wars as the century’s inflection points, Joya Chatterji examines how issues of nationalism, internal and external migration, and technological innovation contributed to South Asia’s tumultuous twentieth century. Chatterji weaves together elements of her autobiography and family history; stories of such legendary figures as Tagore, Jinnah, Gandhi, and Nehru; and, in particular, the accounts of the many who were left behind and marginalized in relentless nation-building projects.
Chatterji examines the countries’ mirroring patterns in state building, social and cultural life, modes of leisure, consumption, and oppression, and offers a timely course correction to our understanding of the dynamics of South Asian history. It reframes the events of the twentieth century that are continuing to play out in the present day.
Joya Chatterji is a fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge University, emeritus professor of South Asian history, and was longtime director of the Centre for South Asian Studies at the University of Cambridge. She was editor of Modern Asian Studies for a decade.
Product Details ISBN: 9780300272680
ISBN-10: 0300272685
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publication Date: November 21st, 2023
Pages: 880
Language: English
“[A] definitive new 20th-century thematic history of the Indian subcontinent that rejects hegemonic conceptions of national ‘difference.’”—Financial Times

“With clarity, wit and charm, Chatterji tells the story of the subcontinent’s recent history in a fluent sweeping arc. . . . Wide-angled and hugely ambitious, but also highly personal and pleasingly discursive, . . . it is wonderfully enjoyable to read. . . . This original, genre-defying work is sure to become a classic.”—William Dalrymple, The Guardian

“This historiographic plum pudding is full of delights. . . . With empathy for all the thinkers, leaders, and common people caught up in the torturous events, Chatterji shares her encyclopedic knowledge of ideologies, laws, caste, class, cities, labor, cuisine, gender, sex work, rice cultivation, snake charmers, and even the best South Asian movies.”—Foreign Affairs

“This book [is] a sweeping look at twentieth-century South Asia. It is a work of history, certainly. But it is equal parts memoir, social commentary, and cultural critique. Its brilliance is that it defies easy classification. . . . If all history was written this well, we would be a society of budding historians.”—Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, “Best Books of 2023”

Longlisted for the 2024 Women’s Prize for Non-Fiction, sponsored by the Women’s Prize Trust

Winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in History

“The story of South Asia told with such verve, wit, and brilliance it catches comatose facts by the throat and shakes them alive. This book invents a genre: navigating effortlessly between the archives, conversations, memoir, newspapers, swooping out to make magisterial observations, zooming in to unearth nuggets of gossip. It is like riding a rollercoaster with a mesmerizing guide who can touch down on any part of South Asia that she chooses, before taking off again.”—Anuradha Roy, author of All The Lives We Never Lived

“This book is a symbol of the inexhaustible richness of the modern history of what are now India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, studied together by one of South Asia's very best historians. Chatterji weaves engaging vignettes of her own experiences into a masterful account anchored in a chronological narrative and illuminated by brilliantly chosen thematic focuses. A pleasure to read, this book will engage newcomers and old-timers alike.”—Barbara D. Metcalf, coauthor of A Concise History of Modern India

“An incredible achievement by an historian writing at her best and displaying narrative sweep and analytical depth.”—Rudrangshu Mukherjee, Ashoka University

“A truly magnificent book, and a must-read for anyone interested in the region.”—Mihir Bose, author of The Nine Waves

“This is history at its best; an invitation to enter worlds within worlds in the company of a master storyteller.”—Simon Longstaff
“A charismatic, dazzling piece of work that has the feel of a future classic.”—Edward Anderson
“Magisterial, erudite, and intimate.”—Durba Ghosh, Cornell University