Book Review: Multiple City: Writings on Bangalore

“Multiple City is the portrait of a metropolis trying to retain its roots as it hurtles into the future.”

One line review: This book is for you, if you are interested to know every aspect and perspective possible, about the city of Bangalore.

Multiple City: Writings on Bangalore, edited by Aditi De is a collection of writings based in and about Bangalore. This anthology traces the lifespan of the city starting from its very foundation by Kempe Gowda and christening the name ‘Bengaluru’ to the metropolis it has become today.

51 pieces of writing in the form of poems, essays, articles, stories, plays etc., both original and translated show you the side of the city, which one wouldn’t have even thought it had, and quite honestly wasn’t even required.

All the pieces are good singularly, but at places the compilation seems to be forcing an image of the city, which essentially it might not be or is a very small part of it. The title itself, seems very generic but again, the collection of writings has been put together to portray that image of Bangalore-being a ‘Multiple City’. It has stories from some very popular writers like R K Narayan, William Darlymple, Ramachandra Guha, Anita Nair etc. But the best part about the book (as per me!) are the illustrations by Maya Kamath and Paul Fernandes. It just adds a quirk to the book.

The book has a mix of feels, like most Anthology’s. While on one hand it takes you on a nostalgic journey down the memory lane remembering how old Bangalore felt to many, on the other hand it cribs yet accepts the fact that IT boom has made it the IT capital of the country, whether it likes it or not. There is food, arts and culture, architecture and a bit of love through poetry as well. Right from ‘The ballad of Kempe Gowda’ to a nursery rhyme about Bangalore, you’ll find a varied collection of poetry, although most of it is translated. I feel that poetry just looses its essence on translation, and its no different here. 

I read this book before travelling (read relocating for sometime) to Bangalore or what we call it now…Bengaluru. So, as a suggestion the book would be a good read for someone looking for a brief about everything Bengaluru. 


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