The Babu has actually been working, much to the surprise of everyone who knows him, and apologises for the blogging go-slow at Kitabkhana over the last week.

We missed out on quite a bit: the NBA awards, the kerfuffle over an initiative that would drop cover prices from book jackets in the UK that had Anthony Beevor and Philip Pullman among a host of other authors up in arms and an opening lines quiz where you’d have to try really hard to score below 6.

Meanwhile, William Dalrymple takes aim, politely, at Naipaul: Today few would dispute Sir Vidia’s status as probably the greatest living writer of Indian origin; indeed, many would go further and argue that he is the greatest living writer of English prose. For good reason, his views are taken very seriously. He is a writer whose fiction and non-fiction written over half a century form a body of work of great brilliance, something the Nobel committee recognised when they awarded him literature’s highest honour. His credentials as a historian are, however, much less secure, and so when Sir Vidia gets something badly wrong, it is important that these errors are challenged.”

This month’s Literary Review at The Hindu features (sketchy) interviews with Mahesh Elkunchwar and Kamila Shamsie, a burble about the recent Katha Utsav and the usual reviews and columns.

Something about this story should tell you that the current author-agent-publisher scenario sucks.

“And what can ail thee, wretched blogger/ Alone and palely loitering/ Known in the office as the bandwidth hogger/ And no page stats sing.” Nope, I’m not going to win the Keats-Shelley Prize at this rate, but if you’re in a Romantic frame of mind, it offers ?3000 in prizes for an essay on any aspect of Keats’ or Shelleys’ work and/ or a poem of no more than 50 lines on a Romantic theme.

“Read alongside Away, Naipaul’s most recent collection, Literary Occasions might almost be engaged in a dialogue with Kumar’s anthology.” The Melbourne Age has an interesting review of both books.

Peter Conrad on his conversion to Tintin-worship: “Precocious and pretentious, I was too busy reading Shakespeare and Dickens to bother with a series of Belgian cartoons about the picaresque scrapes of a boy reporter who always wore immaculately-creased plus fours and sported a blonde quiff poised in mid-air like a wave about to break.”

Budding students of Elvish, Tolkien-style have only this to say to those who mock the “new subject”: Antolle ulua sulrim. It isn’t quite as daft as it sounds, though: unlike most creators of fictional languages, Tolkien spent years developing rules of grammar and the like. Always wanted to learn Klingon, myself.

From The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, for no particular reason at all: “Sandy Stranger had a feeling at the time that they were supposed to be the happiest days of her life, and on her tenth birthday she said so to her best friend Jenny Gray who had been asked to tea at Sandy’s house. The speciality of the feast was pineapple cubes with cream, and the speciality of the day was that they were left to themselves. To Sandy the unfamiliar pineapple had the authentic taste and appearance of happiness and she focused her small eyes closely on the pale gold cubes before she scooped them up in her spoon, and she thought the sharp taste on her tongue was that of a special happiness, which was nothing to do with eating, and was different from the happiness of play that one enjoyed unawares.”





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