“Just to exist in Lahore is a sort of inspiration,” says Bapsi Sidhwa, in a commentary for the BBC on the cities that inspire writers. Since this is soundbyte stuff, don’t expect much more than a sort of Lahore Made Easy guide.

Rushdie takes Padma Lakshmi very, very seriously. They even discuss Prout. Proust. Whatever. (Blame the printer’s devil, not Ms Lakshmi for this one!)

* “When, for example, one reads Curzon’s opinion, during a visit to Persia, that ‘our system may be good for us; but it is neither equally nor altogether good for them the normal Asiatic would sooner be misgoverned by Asiatics than well-governed by Europeans,’ the words have a resonance to the reader that they could not have had when Gilmour first wrote them.” William Dalrymple on David Gilmour’s biography of that most superior person. (Thanks to Amitava for pointing this one out.)

“[Carey] says the other thing about the poetry is that McCauley and Stewart knew that they would be read in two ways: before the hoax was revealed and after. So there is a sense the poems themselves are about the hoax, a coded message for their victim. ‘They’re very tight, disciplined communication,’ he says, ‘they’re very good poems. The character’s known to be a fake; is the poetry a fake? No, I don’t believe so.’” Peter Carey’s next book fictionalises the infamous Ern Malley hoax.

Slate comes to the defence of one of the staples of dishonest and pathbreaking journalism alike–the composite character. “Gay Talese explained the storytelling liberties of New Journalism by saying it ‘seeks a larger truth.’ Alastair Reid, who used composite characters in pieces for The New Yorker, said, ‘There is a truth that is harder to get at … than the truth yielded by fact.’ Mitchell wrote in his preface to Old Mr. Flood, ‘I wanted these stories to be truthful rather than factual, but they are solidly based on facts.’” The Slate piece cites John Hersey as well; however, the Babu has never been able to feel quite as admiring about Mr Hersey since he read Anne Fadiman on the author. In Ex Libris, Anne Fadiman recounts the story of how the dispatches filed by her mother and by Melville Jacoby became “the nearly verbatim basis for about half of Hersey’s best-selling Men on Bataan.” Fadiman continues, “My mother told me, ‘I think Hersey was ruined by the Time Inc method of writing from correspondents’ files. He just got so used to running other people’s work through his typewriter and calling it his own that he started to think the whole written world was raw material.’”

If your kismet is good enough, you might be able to form an Akademi in Delhi without ever needing to tell any aageywalas to chalo. The latest edition of Hanklyn-Janklin is out.

There are prizes for the best first book, the best second novel (the Encore)–and now the Saga awards for writers aged 50 and over. The profusion of awards in today’s literary world reminds the Babu of the birthday parties of his youth, where clever parents saw to it that every child went back home with a prize for something or the other–the Best Funny Walk during Musical Chairs is one that comes to mind.

“Still, I thought, what a clever idea: to publish a book about an author who uses a pseudonym—not to mention somebody else’s work in the first place—under a pseudonym. How funny. How, well, how meta.” Sara Lee on how the pseudonym has changed, from useful cover for shy author or second skin for author writing in a different style, to Brand New Publishing Gimmick.





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