His new book is A Free Man: A True Story of Life and Death in Delhi.
Sethi named five notable books on work and working for the Wall Street Journal, including:
Down and Out In Paris and LondonRead about the other books on the list.
by George Orwell (1933)
In 1928, George Orwell moved to the Latin Quarter in Paris, where a stroke of sudden misfortune left him almost penniless. A keen observer of the absurdities of class and power, Orwell introduced in this, his first book, many of the themes that he fleshes out in his later works. He captures vividly how a quick descent into temporary penury altered how he bought bread, smoked cigarettes, and was perceived by friends and strangers. As his friend Boris explains: "It is fatal to look hungry. It makes people want to kick you." Eventually, Orwell finds work as a plongeur, washing dishes in an expensive hotel where a double door divides the chic restaurant from the filth and chaos of the kitchens. The sections set in London, where he returned after a year and a half, are a searing indictment of the criminalization of poverty. Orwell tramps from workhouse to workhouse, thanks to city laws that keep the poor in perpetual motion: A man may stay in a given workhouse only once a month or face a week's confinement, but he also can't sleep in the open. So one either sleeps in the day and misses work or spends the night in a workhouse and spends the waking hours searching for a place to sleep.
Down and Out in Paris and London is on Roman Krznaric's five recommended books on the art of living, Alice-Azania Jarvis's reading list about unemployment, and Carmela Ciuraru's list of six favorite pseudonymous books.