Monthly Archives: January 2012

Reading: random notes

A group of young men stood outside the gates of the Jaipur Literature festival for three days, handing out blue-and-gold, handbag-sized copies of the Quran. Several journalists noted their presence, but in the ugliness of the threats by a minority of protestors on the last day that shut down Rushdie’s talk and almost shut down […]

The JLF columns: Unhearing the words

(Published in the Business Standard on January 23rd and 24th; both were written at the Jaipur Literature Festival. This is the first piece.)There were two Jaipur Literature Festivals this year. The first was the festival that attracts readers by the thousands, to hear celebrities like Oprah, writers of the calibre of Tom Stoppard or Bama […]

Ten of the best: JLF sessions

The official recordings of the sessions by Amitava Kumar, Hari Kunzru, Jeet Thayil and Ruchir Joshi where the writers read out from the Satanic Verses as a gesture of protest are not available on the festival site. Ten other discussions/ readings that stood out for me: 1) Michael Ondaatje, discussing Cat’s Cradle with Amitava Kumar. […]

Speaking Volumes: Listening To Rushdie

(Published in the Business Standard, January 17, 2012) In all the claims made for Chetan Bhagat, tireless father of the Indian bestseller, this is one you will never hear: he disturbs the peace. In all the arguments made against Salman Rushdie’s attendance at the Jaipur Literature Festival this week, the gist of them is just […]

Speaking Volumes: Dickens and the Oriental Scene

(Carried in the Business Standard, 10 January 2012)At the Bhowanipore cemetery in Calcutta, visitors can walk down the neat rows of graves with their tidy crosses towards the civilian section, to the plot where Charles Dickens’ son rests in peace. Lieutenant Walter Landor Dickens was one of the young “griffs” who died early in the […]

Speaking Volumes: 2011 and 2012 in books

(Published in the Business Standard, January 2, 2012)South Asian fiction in 2011 was alive and thriving, despite premature reports of its demise. To be fair, Chetan Bhagat and the authors of bestsellers such as The Saga of Love Via Telephone Tring Tring made it ridiculously easy for even the marginally talented to look like writers […]

Speaking Volumes: 2011′s best S Asian non-fiction

(Published in the Business Standard, December 27, 2011) From the biography of a killer disease to a tale of three lovers and one murder, the Opium Wars to the life of a woman who found madness instead of God, this year’s non-fiction by Indians or set in Asia took a wide view of the world. […]

Speaking Volumes: 2011′s best S Asian non-fiction

(Published in the Business Standard, December 27, 2011)From the biography of a killer disease to a tale of three lovers and one murder, the Opium Wars to the life of a woman who found madness instead of God, this year’s non-fiction by Indians or set in Asia took a wide view of the world. What […]

Speaking Volumes: So long, and thanks for all the fish

(Published in the Business Standard, December 20, 2011.)Except for the books, they had little in common. The writers and book lovers who died in 2011 spanned worlds of experience, from Diana Wynne Jones, who survived a horrifying childhood to become a writer of children’s books, to Vaclav Havel, the playwright who ushered his country safely […]

Speaking Volumes: Bag of Bones

(Published in the Business Standard, December 13, 2011. This is a longer version of the column that was carried in print.) It was a measure of the relative innocence of Delhi (and India) in 1978 that the murder of two children would hit the city so hard. In the absence of the noise of today’s […]

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