Dismiss this, if you please, as the grumble of a man who prefers Lampedusa, Sabatini, Cortazar and Garcia Marquez (how could I leave out Dario Fo and James Joyce and Vargas Llosa???) to the present crop. But all that the Babu needed on an especially depressing weekend was this: the Booker longlist has admitted not only Monica Ali’s Brick Lane but Martin AmisYellow Dog and Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake. The first was a sort of ‘Bangladesh for Beginners’; the second has been puked on by Tibor Fischer; and the third, unfortunately, is the kind of science fiction Literary Authors write when they’ve never read the genuine article themselves. If you hear a gargle off to the side, it’s just the Babu committing ritual harakiri.

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