Month: April 2003

  • Seems like only yesterday that The Babu was ploughing through a huge volume of the collected shorter writings of the ever-prolific John Updike, who is back with his 20th novel–Seek My Face. The Independent has an interview with the 70-year-old author, who comments on the practice of the interview itself: “When I first set out […]

  • William Gibson tells The Daily Telegraph that he suffers from ‘apophenia’, defined in his new book, Pattern Recognition as “The spontaneous perception of connections and meaningfulness in unrelated things”. Nice one, that. Also in the interview, Gibson talks about why he has a blog despite his continuing “ambivalence” about the Internet. (The Daily Telegraph requires […]

  • Did Daniel Pearl know too much? French author Bernard Henri-Levy thinks that the American journalist was murdered because he’d discovered links between a British terrorist and the Pakistani secret service, and says so in his book, Who Killed Daniel Pearl. (Tariq Ali has a similar theory.)

  • Elaine Steinbeck, widow of John Steinbeck, has died after a lengthy illness. Elaine was Steinbeck’s third wife; he said he had the happiest marriage with her. When Steinbeck died in 1968, Elaine took his ashes back from New York so that they could be interred in the family plot in California, remembering that he had […]

  • Why do some societies make disastrous decisions? Jared Diamond has a road map, and Edge.org has a video of his lecture available online. As a child, the Babu agreed with those who believed that the three most romantic words in the English were to be found on old maps as a warning that you were […]

  • Yup, India’s got textbook problems of its own (see posts for April 27)–but the US is way ahead of us. With rightwing and leftwing groups involved in the sanitization of textbooks, here’s a list of what a US textbook shouldn’t refer to: Mickey Mouse (children may be scared of mice), dinosaurs (offends those who don’t […]

  • Don’t you just love those cute furry guys in advertising and marketing? Manas Chakravarty does, especially when they send him reports that promise to “delve into the psyche of the Indian consumer’. The eight norms they came up with included The Family As a Brand and The Nowness of Life. Manasda took a deep breath […]

  • “I love inscriptions on flyleaves and notes in margins, I like the comradely sense of turning pages someone else turned, and reading passages some one long gone has called my attention to,” wrote Helene Hanff in 84 Charing Cross Road. Now that John Bayley is selling off the book collection of Iris Murdoch, his late […]

  • The winners of the Canongate Prize 2002–the open-to-everyone annual short story competition run by the Edinburgh publishers–have been announced. Canongate usually gets someone interesting to write a short piece around the theme of the competition: this year, Margaret Atwood led the way by contributing a short story on the subject of Writing Wrongs. It’s called […]

  • Had he but time and space and font size, protests a textbook writer, he would have included that little detail about Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination in his history textbook for the NCERT. Amulya Ganguli explains in the Hindustan Times why he isn’t buying this argument: “So, ‘time and space constraint’ and ‘font size’ (!) can persuade […]