In this groundbreaking anthology, sixteen renowned writers tell the hidden story of the AIDS crisis, illuminating the complex nature of one of the major problems facing the developing world.
India is home to almost 3 million HIV cases, but AIDS is still stigmatized and shrouded in denial. Discrimination against HIV-affected individuals in hospitals, schools, and even among families is common, just as discussion about HIV and participation in prevention or treatment programs are not. In this riveting book, sixteen of India's most well-known writers go on the road to uncover the reality of AIDS in India and tell the human stories behind the epidemic.
Kiran Desai travels to the coast of Andhra Pradesh, where the sex workers are considered the most desirable; Salman Rushdie meets members of Mumbai's transgender community; William Dalrymple encounters the devadasis, women who have been “married” to a temple goddess and thus are deemed acceptable for transactional sex. Eye-opening, hard-hitting, and moving, AIDS Sutra presents a side of India rarely seen before.
AIDS has been known in India since the 1980s. In the ensuing decades, numerous alarms have been rung, but with a few exceptions the government, health establishment, and even the constantly vaunted new middle class have perpetuated misinformation, practiced outrageous discrimination, and made little effort to offer effective treatment or prevention to the millions of people affected by or at risk of the virus (estimates for the number of people currently infected in India range from 2 to 5 million). This anthology of new essays by the literary and journalistic elite of India is intended to raise consciousness. Aside from economist Amartya Sen's foreword, which speculates about economic effects and the question of personal responsibility, the essays are all personal stories that, despite the inclusion of famous authors (including Salman Rushdie), have no distinctive literary merit. The intent to counter the belief that AIDS happens to "other people" is weakened by the fact that most of the essays describe marginal or oppressed people who will seem exotic to middle-class readers. Recommended for academic collections and large public libraries.-Lisa Klopfer, Eastern Michigan Univ., Ypsilanti