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Author: Deborah Baker
ISBN/UPC (if available): 9780670082285
In 1961, Allen Ginsberg left New York by boat for Bombay. He brought with him his troubled lover, Peter Orlovsky, and a plan to meet up with poets Gary Snyder and Joanne Kyger. He left behind not only fellow Beats Jock Kerouac, Gregory Corso, and William Burroughts but also the relentless notoriety that followed the publication of Howl, the epic work that branded him the voice of a generation.
Drawing from extensive research, undiscovered letters, journals and memoirs, acclaimed biographer Deborah Baker has woven a many-layered literary mystery out of Ginsberg’s odyssey. A Blue Hand follows the poet and his companions as they travel from the ashrams of the Himalayan foothills to Delhi opium dens and the burning pyres of Benares. They encounter an India of charlatans and saints a country of spectacular beauty and spiritual promise and of devastating poverty and political unease. In Calcutta Ginsberg discovers a circle of hungry young writers whose outrageousness and genius are uncannily reminiscent of his own past. Finally, Ginsberg searches for Hope Savage, the mysterious and beautiful girl whose path before she disappeared had crossed his own in Greenwich Village, San Francisco, and Paris.
In their restless comic and oft-times tortured search for meaning, the Beats looked to India for answers while India looked the West. A Blue Hand is the story of their search for God, for lave, and for peace in the shadow of the atomic bomb. It is also a story of India-its gods and its poets, its politics and its places in the American imagination.
In 1990 DEBORAH BAKER moved to Calcutta where she studied Bengali and wrote In Extremis: the Life of Laura Riding a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize in Biography. Since then, her essays have appeared in a range of publications from The New York Time to The Statesman, Calcutta. With her husband, the writer Amitav Ghosh, and her two children Lila and Nayan, she now divides her time between Calcutta, Goa, and Brooklyn.
‘‘A fabulous book – comic, tragic, and written with great verve and nerve – about the Beats and their ‘passage to Indian’’’ --- Michael Ondaatje
‘‘A passionate account of the Beast at home and in the world … A truly vivid, wonderful book’’ --- Kiran Desai
‘‘A fascinating history of the weirdest moment in the long and ongoing European and American search for the answer to it all in India’’
-- Wendy Doniger, University of Chicago
‘‘Baker evokes strange worlds and distant times in a narrative that never fails to flow and that, in the end, is admirably illuminating’’
-- Kirkus Reviews
‘‘A thoroughly compelling work of illuminating literary and spiritual history’’
‘‘A piece of devoted scholarship and legwork’’
-- The New York Times