Hardie Grant, 2012
Still wrestling with her own experience of growing up in India as the child of Australian missionaries, Kate James is haunted by the story of murdered compatriot Graham Staines. Along with his two young sons, the manager of the mission at Baripada (who helped establish the Mayurbhanj Leprosy Home) was burned alive by Hindu fundamentalists in Orissa while asleep in his car. In search of the man behind the 1999 headlines – and the context behind the conflict in a country known for its religious tolerance – Kate returns to the subcontinent where she grew up. She travels from the hill station of Ooty to Darjeeling via the steamy Coramandel Coast, visiting Catholic shrines, an atheist ashram, a temple to Hindu missionaries and the Kolkata slums, as well as Staines’s Home and her own childhood school. Part detective story, part personal journey, Kate’s engrossing reportage explores India’s complex tapestry of religion and mysticism, assessing its Christian, Buddhist, Hindu and atheist heritage as she comes to terms with the faith she has rejected.
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