Title: Nobody Can Love You More: Life in Red Light District
Author: Mayank Austen Soofi
Publisher: Penguin Viking
I am sure there have been many books written on the red light districts of the country. There are after all so many of them in every city, almost in hiding, in every nook. It is the world’s oldest profession and it has been created by the world. So there are no sides that need to be taken. This is precisely what the book, “Nobody Can Love You More: Life in Delhi’s Red Light District” by Mayank Austen Soofi does. It takes no sides. It states what the author sees, feels and thinks. It is for this reason that I loved the book the way I did.
“Nobody Can Love You More” is about GB Road, Delhi’s famously infamous Red Light District. Soofi talks to prostitutes, the kotha (brothel) owners, the children of the prostitutes and to people associated with the trade. He doesn’t chronicle lives nor is it like I said an opinion on the way things are. It is just documentation with a lot of soul. The reason I say this is while reading the book, I was not sentimental. Neither did I cry. I did however get emotional at various points and it wasn’t because of the profession – either which the women had chosen or forced into. It was largely because of the writing.
The intimacies are laid out. The way Sushma pats Soofi’s hand gently as he gifts her his mom’s blanket to the way he almost becomes a part of Sabir Bhai’s (the owner) kotha. Yet at the same time, I liked how the author questions his beliefs and ideas at every stage in the book. The question of morality, religion and hypocrisy hang in the balance. My best parts were the interactions Soofi had with Sabir Bhai’s children and what were their ideas of the profession and the future. At the same time, I also enjoyed the way there was no fixed flow to the book. It just happened, like it had a life of its own, which I am sure it did.
Throughout the book, I felt as though I could see and smell and sense GB road. It felt as though every action, word and scene was being played out in front of me. So much so that even after finishing the book, I went back to my favourite parts and reread them. Soofi does not at any point feel pity towards what the profession is and rightly so. Neither does it come across in the book. The book is just a reflection of what the so-called society is. It does not take a moralistic stand nor does it intend to.
“Nobody Can Love You More” is one of the best non-fiction reads for me this year. It shines not only in its writing but also beneath the lives led by those in the so-called “flesh trade”. Its intent is not to sensitize but to give an understanding of life, the life that sometimes we choose to ignore or turn a blind eye to.
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I absolutely love non-fiction, and this looks like my kind of book. Great review and thanks for the recommendation!
Oh, I’m definitely going to try this. There’s been a few books of a similar genre this year – there was a Mumbai dance-bar one whose title escapes me for a moment, and of course there was the Pulitzer Prize-winning ‘Beautiful Forevers’ by Katherine Boo. This one sounds like it’s right up there with them. Thanks for pointing it out!
Your review made me read this book. I already mentioned it on Twitter but saying it again here.
I love the way this book has been written. It is almost contradicting in a way. You know how the writer feels but yet there is no judgment, there is no right or wrong. There is just a lot to feel.
Would love to know if you’ve read anything else that would fall in the same genre.
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