But then in an age when everything’s up for sale, why not icons? In an era when all of humanity, when every creature on God’s earth, is trapped between the International Monetary Fund (IMF) cheque book and the American cruise missile, can icons stage a getaway?” From a radio speech by Arundhati Roy.

“What I wished I’d had the courage to do was to take the loud-hailer from one of the men shouting themselves hoarse and talk to the queue of the “Friends of the BJP”, talk to them in Gujarati, to ask them how their Gita-paath and prayers to Mataji jelled with gang-rape, to ask them which Hindu text gave them the licence to fund the butchering of small children, to say to them that, if they really believed in another janma, should they not be then terrified of the maha-paap they had just reaped?” Ruchir Joshi bears silent witness to the protests in London sparked off by Narendra Modi’s visit.

The trade magazine reviews of Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake have been disappointing.

“Literature as an intellectual discipline has been downgraded to merely another ‘realm of opinion’ by dead white men whose insights are mere reflections of privilege rather than brilliance.” From the Tallahassee Democrat.

“[Becket] told his biographer James Knowlson that his ‘own way was in impoverishment, in lack of knowledge and taking away, in subtraction rather than adding’. He felt a keen affinity with others who did the same, such as the sculptor Pala, whose studio in the banlieue he once visited for hours, asking only, ‘When did you begin reducing?'” The TLS on Beckett the man and on the critical industry that grew up around him. (Link found on Arts and Letters Daily.)

* Anne Lamott is republishing her third novel, Joe Jones–“which went on to do worse than any other book in history. I am not tooting my own horn — I got such bad reviews that people pretended the book hadn’t really even been published. I thought this book would end my career. Some reviewers even said they hoped I would get Ebola and bleed out and die — or at any rate, that’s what they said if you read between the lines.”

Who Killed Daniel Pearl? provokes several layers of debate. Here’s Emran Qureshi on the book: “In Lévy’s estimation, the real enemy of the West was not Iraq, but Pakistan, and he hints that some “intervention” may be necessary. It is here, while considering the geopolitics of the subcontinent, that this study falters, as it demonstrates a marked inability to confront pathologies in the Indian subcontinent as a whole. Lévy warns that the odour of the apocalypse wafts from Islamabad to Karachi. No doubt it does, but it also drifts across the border from New Delhi to Islamabad. India has tested nuclear devices on its border with Pakistan and is governed by radical Hindu nationalist parties that mirror the prejudices of their neighbours. Hindu nationalist ideologues were also influenced by German fascist ideology. V..D. Savarkar, a noted Hindu nationalist ideologue, repeatedly compared Indian Muslims to German Jewry…All this eludes Lévy, who views India through a romanticized, saffron-tinted lens.”

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