Kitabkhana promises to cherish this letter forever–it’s the first threat of legal action the site has received this far. Now we feel just like the big brand newspapers. (Don’t bother looking for the offending item–it’s been removed.) Without further offending Mr Banker, the Babu can say that the brouhaha was over the rumoured Rs 10 crore book deal the media reported the author had received for his Ramayana series. Mr Banker’s assertions that he never answered the “how much” question and his clarifications about the amounts received and the sources from which he received those advances are very welcome.

Date: Wed, 30 Jul 2003 04:19:29 -0400

From: “Ashok K. Banker”

Subject: Your defamatory comments

To: hurreebabu@yahoo.co.uk

Dear Sir,

The following comments from your web blog were brought to my attention yesterday:

[SINCE THE NEXT THREE LINES ARE FROM THE OFFENDING POST, THEY HAVE BEEN REMOVED SO AS NOT TO CAUSE ASHOK BANKER ANY FURTHER DISTRESS.]

The above statements are clearly libellious and defamatory on a number of counts and am in touch with my attorneys as well as my publishers to pursue legal action against your website for publishing these comments. As is customary, I’m writing you to offer you the chance to remove these offensive and defamatory comments immediately, failing which I will have no chioce but to take the strongest possible action against your site adminstrators and owners, as well as the owners of the servers that host your website.

Please be assured that I will take this action and my publishers will back me up as your implications are clearly damaging the reputation of their author, as well as the books in question, namely the Ramayana series.

As for the allegations themselves, you’ve clearly not read the articles you’ve referred to comprehensively, or you’d have read both my repeated refusals to answer the “how much” question, as well as the names of my other publishers–AOL TIme Warner Book Group, USA, Random House Verlagsgruppe Germany, Universe Pocket Imprint, France, as well as others unnamed but referred to in the articles, which do indeed contribute the majority of the total advances received by me to date (not 98% but well above 85%).

If you have any queries, I look forward to hearing them at the earliest. Failing which I shall go ahead and take all legal action available to me. You should know that you will then be liable under both civil and criminal law, and that under the relevant section and under certain conditions, criminal defamation is a non-bailable offense. Since I don’t seek financial redressal, this is the action I propose to take against all concerned with your website.

Best wishes

Ashok K. Banker

“Depending on one’s ideology, Bloom can be perceived in one of two ways: as a Don Quixote tilting at the whirring blades of social progress or as a noble Sir Lancelot, defending a literary kingdom whose nobility includes Homer, Milton, and Dante. In this second paradigm, Bloom’s King Arthur is undoubtedly William Shakespeare, the writer to whom he reverently refers as ‘my mortal god.'” The Atlantic Monthly interviews Harold Bloom.

Billions of blue blistering barnacles! The Babu learns that the Tintin adventures aren’t just cheerfully old-fashioned yarns peopled by a cast of eccentric and chiefly male characters. According to the Times Literary Supplement, they “are also intricate fables which speak to many of the pressing concerns of modern times: they celebrate heroism and the transcendence of self, the resistance of the ‘small’ person (or institution or country) against larger oppressive forces, the liberating and exhilarating potential of modern technology, and the capacity for human understanding to transcend racial and cultural differences (symbolized by Tintin’s friendship with the young Tibetan, Tchang).” Er…wow?

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