Strange as it may seem, this book was first published in French as a translation before it appeared in English, the language it was written in. Therefore, I am grateful to Editions Ramsay, my French publishers, for having invested generously in my loves and fantasies, which, like many others before me, I had consigned to the flames of a worthless fire. It was Ramsay who offered me the ambiguous light of the first printed word.
Cultures have evolved in a way that a lot more than mere language separates the French view of India from that of the English-speaking world. I thank David Davidar, Tony Lacey and Kapish Mehra, three editors geographically and temporally separated, for helping me adapt the original text to the English edition. My thanks to Amy Bhatt Potter and Meenakshi Suri, who accepted to ruin their respective holidays and patiently read through my manuscript; not only did they spend time over it, they even had the grace to say they actually enjoyed doing it.
Writing in so many ways is a suicidal act. Each gesture of friendship helps in evading or accomplishing it. I thank Ann Ninan, Mukul Manglik, Harsh Kapoor, Lajpat Jagga, Yogesh Sharma and Burmi for their support in running a bachelor household that was crumbling under the weight of meaningless deadlines and man-made paranoias. I must also thank Nandini Mehta for her unforgettable words of encouragement. She was the first person to read the completed manuscript.
I feel too small to thank Elisa Breton for the simple reason that there are certain artistic and moral debts in life that one can never pay off. Elisa's friendship and all the memory of Andre Breton which came alive with it, is the greatest gift that this city of surrealists could have offered me.
But above all, it is to Mandakini, my love, yes, the very reincarnation of Ganga, to whom I repeat:' I have discovered the secret of loving you, always for the first time.'
About the Author
Vijay Singh is an Indian writer and film - maker living in Paris. After studying History at St Stephen's College, Delhi, and Center for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, he moved to Paris where he has written extensively for Le Monde, Le Monde Diplomatique, Liberation, Guardian and several other newspapers.
He is the author of several highly acclaimed books: La Nuit Poignardee, Whirlpool of Shadows and The River Goddess. His books have been translated into French and other European languages.
Many years after he wrote and directed a play, waiting for Beckett by Go dot (1736), he made the award - winning Man has been shown on over 100 television channels worldwide. Vijay Singh is also the director of two internationally - acclaimed feature films - Jaya Ganga and One Dollar Curry.
Vijay Singh was awarded the Prix Villa Medicis hors les murs for foreign literature in 1990 and Bourse Leonardo de Vinci for screenplay writing.
He is currently working on his next feature film adapted from his novel Whirlpool of Shadows.
From the jacket
Nishant, a young Indian writer living in Paris, journeys down the Ganga, from its source in the Himalayas to the sea. Haunted by the memory of a beautiful Parisienne called Jaya, he plans to write a book about his voyage. On the banks of the Ganga, he chances upon Zehra, a dancing girl in the tradition of the great tawaiffs. Zehra resurrects the memory of Jaya.
With Jaya and Zehra inhabiting his mental world, Nishant undertakes an entrancing journey down the Ganga, where he has unexpected encounters with sadhus, boatmen, engineers, vernacular journalists, tawaiffs, pimps, administrators, Pandas, and Bollywood stars like the electioneering Amitabh Bachchan.
When Jaya Ganga was first released in France, it took the country by storm and it was hailed as a unique and captivating travelogue which brings the author's inner and outer worlds together.
Rarely before have poetic prose and class journalism been brought together with such effortless and readable ease. Jaya Ganga, also a cult film today, ran for a record 49 weeks in France and has been screened in nearly 40 countries worldwide.
Back Of Book
A rare and remarkable journey-part pilgrimage, part romantic odyssey-down India's mightiest river, the Ganga.
'Almost a new style of writing is born: less cerebral and convoluted than Rushdie, less formal than Anita Desai, less clever than Vikram Seth but certainly more wholesome and fulfilling for the modern Indian soul.'
-The Times of India
'A journey full of surprises, that will please you, that will displease you .A journey necessary all the same for it teaches you to swim through the enigmas of this world.'
-Jean-Claude Carriere in Liberation
'Poetic, mystical, metaphysical, humorous, erotic, erratic, this book is a complete portrait of India.'
-Yves Florenne in Le Monde Diplomatique
'Beyond the present, this journey is a pilgrimage to the very source of religion, art and history. It is a meditation on time and the tragedy of existence Jaya Ganga, whose baroque effervescence at times brings Umberto Eco to mind, is not just one of the most original books of recent times, it also heralds the birth of a writer.'
-Michelle Perrot in Le Nouvel Observateur
'This novel is the very air that India breathes its great quality is to inspire thought.'
-Antoine Spire in Le Matin
'Jaya Ganga is a literary event, the revelation of an immense talent.'
-J. B. in La Montagne
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