The West Bengal state goverment has banned Taslima Nasreen’s Dwikhandita. She reacts with “shock” and “dismay”. In Outlook, Sundeep Dougal goes beyond the usual knee-jerk reactions to what lies beneath the surface of book bans: “Was the fear of “communal disharmony” so real that the government thought it fit to ban the book? Will this ban succeed in its avowed aim, of preventing it? I don’t think so. If anything, it would be quite to the contrary. While affront to religious sensibilities is a serious issue – as witnessed most recently over the furore over depiction of Ganesha in an old academic book – the genie let out of the bottle by the Satantic Verses case has metamorphosed into a horrifying monster that looms over all discourse surrounding freedom of expression and speech.”

Jan Morris says she’s retiring from writing, sort of.

“Lucia and Zelda may have been less gifted than the men in question. But there is something else going on here, too, which the biographies-of-the-artists’-women record: that while nature seems to award brilliance equally to men and women, society does not nurture it equally in the two sexes, and thus leaves the women more discourageable. Nor, in females, does the world reward selfishness, which, sad to say, artists seem to need, or so one gathers from the portraits of the men in these books.” A biography of Joyce’s daughter sparks off this meditation in the New Yorker on the talent, and selfishness, of artists–and where gender begins to matter.

Given the chance to interview Noam Chomsky, the question that you’d be dying to ask him is…why there are so many euphemisms for genitalia. The Observer finds out, inadvertently, how the great man felt about being interviewed by the New York Times.

The Stainless Steel Mouse and two other Chinese Internet writers have been freed; a fourth writer has been charged with attempt to subversion.

“This is not just another of those grammarians’ gripes about greengrocers, and, in spite of the reference in the title to zero tolerance, Lynne Truss remains utterly good-natured throughout… She does say that people who put an apostrophe in the wrong place, when they ought to know better, deserve to be struck by lightning, hacked up on the spot and buried in an unmarked grave, but it’s probably mostly in fun.” The Zero Tolerance Guide to Punctuation is under review.

Turkish farmers were responsible for the spread of the English language, so we can quit celebrating the contribution of Kurgan horsemen.





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