New Kings of the World Dispatches from Bollywood, Dizi, and K-Pop
An important dispatch from a new, multipolar order that is taking form before our eyes
A vast cultural movement is emerging from outside the Western world. Truly global in its range and allure, it is the biggest challenge yet to Hollywood, McDonald’s, blue jeans, and other aspects of American mass-produced popular culture. This is a book about the new arbiters of mass culture—India’s Bollywood films, Turkey's soap operas, or dizi, and South Korea’s pop music. Carefully packaging not always secular modernity, combined with traditional values, in urbanized settings, they have created a new global pop culture that strikes a deeper chord than the American version, especially with the many millions who are only just arriving in the modern world and still negotiating its overwhelming changes.
Fatima Bhutto, an indefatigable reporter and vivid writer, profiles Shah Rukh Khan, by many measures the most popular star in the world; goes behind the scenes of Magnificent Century, Turkey’s biggest dizi, watched by more than 200 million people across 43 countries; and travels to South Korea to see how K-Pop started. Bhutto’s book is an important dispatch from a new, multipolar order that is taking form before our eyes.
This book is published with support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
“[The] urge to refashion the narrative of modern culture drives much of the writing in Bhutto's razor-sharp, intriguing introduction to the various pop phenomena emerging from Asia. The huge popularity of Turkish TV across many parts of the world is part of a wider shift of cultural power from western countries to the global south, Bhutto argues in New Kings of the World.” —Tash Aw, Financial Times
“A probing look at some of the shifting tides of global culture. Having borne witness to the throes of political upheaval in her birth country of Pakistan, journalist and novelist Bhutto here explores the local roots and global impact of three contemporary pop-culture game-changers: Bollywood (India), dizi (Turkey), and K-Pop. Many American readers may be surprised to learn that what’s entertaining much of the rest of the world no longer hails from Hollywood or New York.... Witty and packed with detail, this is an intercultural shot that should be heard around the world.” —Kirkus ★ starred review
“Bhutto’s desire to constantly question the status quo has made her a scrupulous field reporter.... [She] uses the book to explore how these cultural forms have infiltrated unexpected corners of the world, and steadily become bastions in certain countries.” —Shrai Popat, The Juggernaut
“A short, well-researched, and engaging book, it contains elements of travelogue as well as cultural studies, taking the reader to meet a variety of people in diverse locations, from Bollywood fans high in the Andes to K-pop songwriters in Gangnam, Seoul.” —John A. Riley, Popmatters
“A fascinating book.... Those who feared that globalization was just another word for Americanization were mistaken.... Popular entertainment has actually done just the opposite: it has made globalization a force for the un-Americanization of the world.” —Vir Sanghvi, Airmail
“Shrewdly combining cultural and political analysis, original reporting and a fan’s passions, novelist and memoirist Fatima Bhutto’s New Kings of the World surveys three booming non-Western pop-culture scenes. Examining the continued global popularity of Bollywood and the recent ascent of Turkey’s dizi soap operas and South Korea’s K-Pop, Bhutto finds entertainment crafted to appeal to audiences alienated from America's pop culture.” —Shelf Awareness
“Fatima Bhutto doesn’t miss a thing. From the Bollywood fan clubs of Lima to the refugee camps of northern Lebanon, she records and observes the terrain of global pop with curiosity, compassion, scalpel-sharp smarts, quiet humor, and an unfailing eye for the absurd. New Kings of the World is cultural reporting at its best.” —Ben Ehrenreich
“A delight, a must-read. Fatima Bhutto is the modern renaissance woman: after a searing memoir and an exploration of ‘ISIS brides,’ she turns her diagonal gaze across global pop culture, away from and beyond the lingua franca of English. The result is as effervescent as her subject matter: a hilarious and intelligent understanding of pop as primal need in contemporary life from Peshawar to Istanbul, Seoul to Lima—replete with characters, differences, and common rip-tides—and of the global economy that creates, and manipulates, that need.” —Ed Vulliamy
“Fatima Bhutto is one of the most stylish, thoughtful writers in the world today. This book will make you gurgle with cultural pleasure.” —Johann Hari
“Bhutto carefully dissects the guts of our popular culture.... Essential to understand the soul of our times.” —Ece Temelkuran
Fatima Bhutto was born in Kabul, Afghanistan and grew up between Syria and Pakistan. She is the author of five previous books of fiction and nonfiction. Her debut novel, The Shadow of the Crescent Moon, was long listed for the Bailey's Women’s Prize for Fiction and the memoir about her father’s life and assassination, Songs of Blood and Sword, was published to acclaim. Her most recent book is The Runaways, a novel.
She graduated from Barnard with a degree in Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures and has a masters in South Asian Government and politics from SOAS. @fbhutto