A Free Man
Every morning in Sadar Bazaar, one of the oldest markets in Delhi, a gang of men gather looking for work in the building trade. For five years, journalist and writer Aman Sethi shared their lives, and in particular that of Mohammed Ashraf. Ashraf is a mazdoor, an itinerant house-painter, but he’s not a typical labourer – he’s studied biology in college, and after college learnt how to repair TV sets, cut suits, and slice chicken. He’s lived all over India, but now he finds himself in Delhi: the second most populous city in the country. The morning will bring hangovers, whisky breakfasts and possibly answers to the lingering questions that haunt Ashraf. How did he get here? Why is he the way he is? And is there a way back home?
One of the very best young journalists in India, Aman Sethi brings Ashraf vividly alive and illuminates the lives of countless others like him. Wry, humorous and insightful, A Free Man: A True Story of Life and Death in Delhi is an unforgettable portrait of an invisible man in his invisible city, and an extraordinary human story. Michael Ondaatje calls it ‘a brilliant capturing of the language and bloodstream of a city’; Esther Duflo, author of Poor Economics, said it is ‘a beautiful work of journalism, sympathetic and graceful’ and Katherine Boo, author of Behind The Beautiful Forevers, called it ‘a deeply moving, funny, and brilliantly written account from one of India’s most original new voices’. Sethi talks about India and Delhi.
Aman Sethi was born in Bombay in 1983. He studied chemistry in Delhi, and journalism in Chennai and New York. He is the East African correspondent for The Hindu. This is his first book.
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