Like Dave Eggers’ Zeitoun and Alexander Masters’ Stuart, this is a tour de force of narrative reportage - an intimate portrait of an invisible man.
Mohammed Ashraf studied biology in college, and after college he learned how to repair television sets, cut suit lengths, and slice chicken. He has lived in Mumbai, Calcutta, Hyderabad, Surat, and Patna, but this evening he is stoned on a street in Sadar Bazaar, in North Delhi. The morning shall bring hangovers, whiskey 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?
In this compelling account of the life of an itinerant laborer, Aman Sethi brings Ashraf vividly alive and illuminates the lives of countless others like him. Wry, humorous, and insightful, A Free Man is an unforgettable portrait of an invisible man in his invisible city.
"Funny, poignant, and deeply moving, A Free Man is an extraordinary vignette into an extraordinary life." (Siddhartha Mukherjee, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Emperor of All Maladies)
"A deeply moving, funny, and brilliantly written account from one of India’s most original new voices." (Katherine Boo, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of Behind the Beautiful Forevers)
"A Free Man is a brilliant capturing of the language and bloodstream of a city. Aman Sethi has made a book that’s remarkable in its voice and evocation." (Michael Ondaatje, New York Times best-selling author of The English Patient)
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early lights are bright, but dim as years go by