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The Ascetic of Desire

The Ascetic of Desire

Author(s): Sudhir Kakar

Location(s): Varanasi

Genre(s): Biography, Fiction, Historical

Era(s): 400 BCE–200 CE

The Kama Sutra is the most widely read treatise on sex ever written, though the man who chronicled all there was to experience between men and women remains, for the most part, a mystery. In The Ascetic of Desire, called a literary achievement of the highest order, by The Times (India), acclaimed author Sudhir Kakar tells the story of the man who is believed to be the author of the Kama Sutra, Vatsyayana, and the time in which he lived-the fourth century A.D., considered the golden age of Indian history.
In The Ascetic of Desire, the elusive sage Vatsyayana recounts his youth to a young pupil. The young man, planning to write Vatsyayana’s biography, listens dutifully as Vatsyayana shares stories of a childhood spent largely in the brothel where his favorite aunt worked. As Vatsyayana’s story unfolds, the pupil finds, to his consternation, that his own life has begun to reflect and parallel the ascetic’s narrative. At the point where their stories intersect, the unexpected happens.
Like Arthur Golden’s Memoirs of a Geisha, Sudhir Kakar’s novel is a startling combination of psychological insight and historical detail. With rights sold in eleven countries, this is a story of universal appeal imbued with a distant world’s charm and exotic allure.
The best novel on sex and sensuality I have ever read. (Khushwant Singh, author of Train to Pakistan)

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