In 1932, Nurullah, an English teacher aged twenty-three, comes to the city of Akbarabad. He teaches literature to 'first-years' at the university and encounters a non-violent resistance movement against British rule. It seems to him a bizarre way for an occupied country to confront an empire in a violent, unequal world -- one more wrong turn, among others, that Indian history has taken.
During the ten years from 1932 that he lives with a non-violent family in the 'national monument' that their domed mansion has become, Akbarabad educates him in varied ways, leaving him stubbornly resistant to non-violence. The book ends in 1968 with a look-back and a reconsideration by the man Nurullah has now become.
Is non-violence a lunatic's fantasy? Has it any place in the world as it still is? Did it work even in India? Shall we ever know? An American journalist of the 1930s and '40s believes it matters. An American scholar comes searching for its surviving strands in 1968 when disarmament remains a distant dream. Nurullah, meanwhile, has come to terms with what ultimately matters -- himself -- and learns what he owes to the city named after Akbar the Great.
Year published: 2003
Sub-genre: Historical fiction.
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