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William Dalrymple

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The Unconventional Literateur

A recent profile of historian William Dalrymple began with his living situation — he ‘lives in a farmhouse on the outskirts of New Delhi with his wife, their three children, four incestuous goats, a cockatoo, and the usual entourage of servants that attends any successful man in India’s capital city.’  It is the kind of sweeping and exotic description 45-year-old Dalrymple would be amused by. Over the last two decades he has written non-fiction that is colourful, accessible and extremely ambitious. Beginning with a still best-selling travel book (City of Djinns: A Year in Delhi) and right up to his eighth, Nine Lives: In Search of the Sacred in Modern India, the reading public has never had any doubts about Dalrymple. Critics have moved from suspicion that he is a marauding Orientalist to accepting his role in promoting non-fiction in India. He is a co-founder and co-director of the very prestigious and ever-expanding DSC Jaipur Literature festival. He is currently working on the history of the first Afghan war.

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