Better to Have Gone

Love, Death, and the Quest for Utopia in Auroville

    • 4.1 • 17 Ratings
    • $13.99
    • $13.99

Publisher Description

Named a Best Book of the Year by The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, CNN, New Statesman, Air Mail, and more

A “haunting and elegant” (The Wall Street Journal) story about love, faith, the search for utopia—and the often devastating cost of idealism.

It’s the late 1960s, and two lovers converge on an arid patch of earth in South India. John Walker is the handsome scion of a powerful East Coast American family. Diane Maes is a beautiful hippie from Belgium. They have come to build a new world—Auroville, an international utopian community for thousands of people. Their faith is strong, the future bright.

So how do John and Diane end up dying two decades later, on the same day, on a cracked concrete floor in a thatch hut by a remote canyon? This is the mystery Akash Kapur sets out to solve in Better to Have Gone, and it carries deep personal resonance: Diane and John were the parents of Akash’s wife, Auralice. Akash and Auralice grew up in Auroville; like the rest of their community, they never really understood those deaths.

In 2004, Akash and Auralice return to Auroville from New York, where they have been living with John’s family. As they reestablish themselves in the community, along with their two sons, they must confront the ghosts of those distant deaths. Slowly, they come to understand how the tragic individual fates of John and Diane intersected with the collective history of their town.

“A riveting account of human aspiration and folly taken to extremes” (The Boston Globe), Better to Have Gone probes the underexplored yet universal idea of utopia and portrays in vivid detail the daily life of one such community. Richly atmospheric and filled with remarkable characters, spread across time and continents, this is narrative writing of the highest order—a “gripping…compelling…[and] heartbreaking story, deeply researched and lucidly told” (The New York Times Book Review).

GENRE
Biographies & Memoirs
RELEASED
2021
July 20
LANGUAGE
EN
English
LENGTH
368
Pages
PUBLISHER
Scribner
SELLER
SIMON AND SCHUSTER DIGITAL SALES INC
SIZE
26.9
MB

Customer Reviews

jkatzstyle ,

Truth is stranger than Fiction

Congrats to Akash and Auralice on this remarkable book - a historical account searching for answers and closure, and willing to make the necessary effort to truly understand what happened in the context of the characters and the times. I also appreciated that it was written with a tremendous sense of love as a gift to his family, particularly Auralice - helping bring some closure to the trauma of those early years. Having a hard time putting it down, I vacillated between fascination, indignation, and empathy for the plight of the characters. As Mark Twain noted - "Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn't.” This seems to apply here and what was created is a passionate yet pragmatic account of a history that needed to be recognized and shared. Thank you - a new devoted fan!

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