Month: April 2003

  • The invitation to the launch of Pico Iyer’s Abandon arrived today: may it be better than recent Delhi launches, hopes the Babu devoutly. Ram Jethmalani’s biography was unveiled by a somewhat bewildered V S Naipaul, who is reported to have taken in Delhi’s glitterati and said that he was expecting to see more, well, authors. […]

  • A pigeon called Ravenscourt, a band of warrior pigeons wreaking havoc over London, even the odd stool pigeon–what’s not to like about Patrick Neate’s The London Pigeon Wars? (Yes, the Babu admits he’s been an unabashed Neate fan since the man wrote the lovely Twelve Bar Blues.) The Spectator reviewer is a bit sniffy about […]

  • “I think that we need as many warnings as possible, in all kinds of ways possible. Whether it is through art or literature, or journalism or in the classroom or courtroom. [We need] To say that any kind of prejudice, bigotry, warspeak, fundamentalism, obscurantism is going to diminish our lives, impoverish our lives.” Githa Hariharan, […]

  • History is written by the victors, and guess what? They’re all aspiring comic writers in disguise. The Times of India frontpaged this report on the new and controversial NCERT history textbooks, whose authors appear to have borrowed their motto from Whitman: “Do I contradict myself? Very well then, I contradict myself.” (Wondering what the kerfuffle […]

  • The Babu’s finally figured out why Indian authors step gingerly around sex scenes–either that or they describe the mating game with an air of bravado, substituting anatomical exactitude for any real flair. (Okay, so there’re a few exceptions. A dog-eared set of Khajuraho postcards for anyone who can list ten of ’em.) It comes of […]

  • Kitabkhana’s kind of pleased with itself: the Babu latched on to the rise and rise of Fareed Zakaria (scroll down for a related 21st April post) a wee bit ahead of either India Today or Outlook. (If you’re wondering why there’s a link to the Outlook story but not the India Today review of Zakaria’s […]

  • The Babu doesn’t think the book’s reached India yet, but Professor Krishan Kumar’s examination of The Making of English National Identity is already attracting applause. The Guardian calls it “a scholarly masterpiece”.

  • Naomi Klein can turn a book review into an impassioned polemic on activism: “All of us – young, old, middle-aged – have seen the way the ’60s exhortation of “don’t trust anyone over 30” isolated college-age idealists from their communities and families and know that the focus on youth as a source of radicalism puts […]

  • Pradeep Sebastian pays tribute to “that humble, hole-in-the-wall affair we have come to call the private circulating library”–a very different affair from the American conception of a public library. In the late 1990s, he notes sadly, “circulating libraries went out of circulation”. The article sent the Babu off on his very own nostalgia trip as […]

  • The usual band of the ignorant and the bigoted have got together to protest Romila Thapar’s appointment to the Kluge Chair (see entry under 24 April). The Babu notes that the argument put forward by one C V Prakash encapsulates the classic rightwing Hindutva attitude to the study of history perfectly: “India’s heritage and culture […]