cover image Stealing Green Mangoes: Two Brothers, Two Fates, One Indian Childhood

Stealing Green Mangoes: Two Brothers, Two Fates, One Indian Childhood

Sunil Dutta. Ecco/Anthony Bourdain, $26.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-06-279585-4

A dark thread of crime and violence poisons a family in this anguished memoir. Dutta, an LAPD police sergeant, traces his traumatic family history back to the carnage surrounding the 1947 partition of India, when many of his Hindu relatives were killed as they were driven out of Muslim Pakistan. Growing up poor in Jaipur, India, Dutta and his brother, Raju, were regularly beaten by an uncle. Raju later embarked on a colorful and then tragic criminal career, committing fraud, identity theft—including a yearlong impersonation of a terrorist—and murder. Dutta’s own life followed an opposite but equally fascinating path: after moving to the U.S. in 1986, he gave up a career as a biologist to become a street cop in Los Angeles, where his experiences challenged his assumptions that crime is caused by poverty and social disadvantages and illuminated his agonized search for reasons behind Raju’s transgressions. Throughout, Dutta combines gritty firsthand accounts of mayhem with dashes of philosophy—“As some fleeting thoughts about the indignity of death and the transient nature of the physical body as the custodian of the spirit wafted through my head, I saw the left hand of the corpse suddenly quiver.” Dutta’s remarkable family saga makes for a fascinating meditation on crime and responsibility. (Oct.)