Life along the Indus

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  • Published 21.09.08

Debutante author Alice Albinia’s Empires of the Indus, the story of a river, traces the rise and decline of kingdoms along the Indus. The book is Hachette India’s first major publication in the country.

Alice Albinia at the book launch. Picture by Rashbehari Das

The narrative combines the author’s experiences of the life, culture and people from the present with the past. But when the author talks of her subject, it seems that she is introducing to India with a sense of superiority a part of Indian culture. But so thorough is her knowledge that it is tempting to forgive her.

“It took me about four years of research to write this book,” says Albinia, who had lived and worked in Delhi, after her graduation, before moving back to the UK to do her masters.

One of the high points of her research was being on the trail of Alexander the Great along the Indus. “I walked along that entire length in Alexander’s footsteps.” Forgotten tombs that she found in the deserts left an impression on her. “There are beautiful frescoes on the tombs. But very little of this art has been highlighted,” she rues.

“The river has been highly dammed, so there is little of it left in the deltas,” says Albinia.

The British deputy high commissioner, Simon Wilson, who released the book in Calcutta at Oxford Bookstore on Friday, praised the work that has been longlisted for the prestigious Guardian First Book Award 08.