Romila Thapar will now be called the Kluge Chair. Just kidding: the respected historian has often been targetted by Hindutva hardliners for her refusal to compromise on the facts of history, so it’s nice to know that she’s appreciated elsewhere.

Katie Roiphe argues that there’s way too much gossip about the possibly “autobiographical underpinnings” of a writer’s work. She may have a point there, but the Babu finds it hard to swallow her contention that fiction automatically sanitises the use of characters drawn from real life, and that the reader should exercise a stern and stringent lack of curiosity. Presumably we shouldn’t even begin to wonder whether a writer who bases several of his or her characters on real, live people might not be suffering from a certain lack of imagination…



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