Holy Warriors

Sunday Times Travel Book of the Year, 2009.
Nominated for India’s Ramnath Goenka’s Excellence in Journalism Best Book Award.
Finalist for international Index on Censorship best book prize in 2008
Finalist for India’s Vodafone Crossword literary prize in 2008



An anthology of Penguin’s best writing on India from the last twenty years: Edna’s first book Holy Warriors was short-listed for the international Index on Censorship TR Fyvel prize and nominated for India’s Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Best Book Award. An extract from Holy Warriors is included in Penguin India’s The Non-Fiction Collection. 

Holy Warriors included in list of Best Books on Asia of the Decade: Adrienne Loftus Parkins, former head of Asia House’s Literary Festival, organiser of the National Portrait Gallery’s Literary Festival and head of Asia Word gives her best books on Asia from the last decade (2009), including Holy Warriors. Some personal favourites on the list include Silk Road by Colin Thubron, Descent into Chaos by Ahmed Rashid, Maximum City by Suketu Mehta and The Glass Palace by Amithav Ghosh. 

Guardian: ‘What a cast of characters make their way through this sharp-witted and straight-talking book: the fatuous and the venal, the self-important and the deluded, the exploitative and the corrupt. Edna Fernandes has undertaken to track down figures who epitomise the most depressing facet of Indian life – its holy warriors – as well as some of their victims. Her odyssey takes her far and wide – from Nagaland and Kashmir in the north down via Punjab and on to Goa… The reportage is even-handed and responsible and delightfully witty. Fernandes’ asides are precise and wicked. Above all, she offers a valuable reminder of the dark side of the economic miracle that is modern India.’ 

The Independent: ‘Fernandes reports on India’s differences with compelling insight. Holy Warriors makes for vital reading, showing India’s urgent need to rearticulate an inclusive identity, to master change and exceed past glories,’

Pick of the Paperbacks, Daily Telegraph: ‘Witty and incisive, Holy Warriors offers a compelling insight into the imperiled state of India’s secular ideal,’

Jean Hannah Edelstein, Observer: ‘An insightful analysis of religious fundamentalism, combining solid research with bold investigative reporting. Fernandes’ survey is brave, enlightening and sobering, a must-read for anyone interested in modern India,”

Simon Long, Former Asia Editor, Economist: This is a remarkable, brave, moving, disturbing, funny and at times beautiful book. It tackles head-on the great Indian paradox, which most observers tend to ignore or obfuscate: that India is a centre of religion and spirituality, and hence of tolerance, celebrating the many paths available to those seeking the Godhead; yet it has also been home to some of the most terrible atrocities committed anywhere in the name of religion,’

Khushwant Singh, Hindustan Times: “The cancer of religious bigotry and intolerance has afflicted all communities — Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and Christians. This is vividly brought out in Edna Fernandes’ powerful book. Holy Warriors is as fair and objective an assessment of the perils that lie ahead for India as any that I have ever read. It is a must read,”

Pankaj Mishra: ‘This impressively researched and lucidly written book travels quickly beyond many banalities about India today. Anyone interested in exploring the complex appeal of religious extremism in half-modern societies should read it.’

Literary Review: ‘A journey of discovery into some of the tensions that regularly stretch India,’

Nihal Arthanayake, BBC Radio One DJ: ‘This is an amazing book. Anyone interested in religions and how they get on – or don’t – should get hold of it.’

Metro London:
‘An even-handed portrayal of a sensitive subject.’

Tim Parks,Daily Telegraph: ‘Witty, informative – and disturbing.’Business World: ‘Excellent…Holy Warriors shows up in all its ugliness the cancer of religious bigotry and intolerance that afflicts all communities – Sikhs, Christians, Hindus and Muslims. It is a vivid and shocking mosaic,’Humra Quraishi,

Tribune: “A highly potent book,”Review: Indo-Asian News Service: ‘Edna Fernandes exposes some of the post 9/11 clichés that equate islam with terrorism. A reporter with a gift for details and genuine flashes of wit, Fernandes weaves together voices of key actors as well as the innocents caught in the cleft of history to explain the seductions of fundamentalism and its many pernicious variants,’Review by Mahesh Bhatt: “A gripping book on the political issues facing India today.”