• Run and Hide

  • A Novel
  • By: Pankaj Mishra
  • Narrated by: Mikhail Sen
  • Length: 10 hrs and 15 mins
  • 4.2 out of 5 stars (9 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A new novel by one of the most important public intellectuals of our time, a vivid and moving meditation on the rise of New India, the effects of globalization, and the crisis of masculinity that accompanies these rapidly changing conditions.

Growing up in a small railway town, Arun always dreamed of escape. His acceptance at the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology, enabled through great sacrifice by his low-caste parents, is seemingly his golden ticket out of a life plagued by everyday cruelties and deprivations.

At the predominantly male campus, he meets two students from similar backgrounds. Unlike Arun - scarred by his childhood, and an uneasy interloper among go-getters - they possess the sheer will and confidence to break through merciless social barriers. The alumni of IIT eventually go on to become the financial wizards of their generation, working and playing hard from East Hampton to Tuscany - the recipients of unprecedented financial and sexual freedom. But while his friends play out Gatsby-style fantasies, Arun fails to leverage his elite education for social capital. He decides to pursue the writerly life, retreating to a small village in the Himalayas with his aging mother.

Arun’s modest idyll is one day disrupted by the arrival of a young woman named Alia, who is writing an exposé on his former classmates. Alia, beautiful and sophisticated, draws Arun back to the prospering world where he must be someone else if he is to belong. And when he is implicated in a terrible act of violence by his closest IIT friend, Arun will have to reckon with the person he has become.

Run and Hide is Pankaj Mishra’s intimate story of achieving material progress at great moral and emotional cost. It is also the story of a changing country and global order, and the inequities of class and gender that map onto our most intimate relationships.

©2022 Pankaj Mishra (P)2022 Penguin Audio

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Disjointed narrative

Author should stay with non fiction and articles
This book tries too hard to be too many things

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Modern India?

Generally, I enjoy political novels about India. Some of the best include “The God of Small Things,” by Arundhati Roy, “The Lives of Others,” by Neel Mukherjee and even the classic colonial novel, “A Passage to India,” by E.M. Forster. The best novels focus on Indians of different classes and ambitions, struggling for a productive life in a challenging culture.

I did not enjoy this novel. “Run and Hide” is about modern India as it shifts from a liberal democracy to a nationalistic autocracy under Narendra Modi. The characters lack depth. The three initial main characters begin as classmates at the India Institute of Technology. They come from poor backgrounds, and they are brutalized together in a college hazing. Two of the three end up as wealthy globalists, rich but manipulative. It's as if the humiliating hazing destroys their sense of fairness as much as their impoverished childhoods. The third main character, the narrator, is just boring. He doesn’t only lack ambition; he seems to lack emotion entirely. While he is exposed to potentially fascinating experiences in London, New York and elsewhere, he is too alienated to take advantage.

The narrator is constantly noting the elite brand names of the products that his friends acquire. While he doesn’t share their materialism, he also doesn’t offer much insight into how they achieved their worldly success. He seems proud of all that modern Indian emigres have achieved in the modern world, but he does not see them as role models.

Much of the book is read in a dry, matter-of-fact style, not bad but not compelling.

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