Month: June 2011

  • Speaking Volumes: The F-Word, revisited

    (Published in the Business Standard, June 2011)The first issue of Granta, on New American Writing, came out in 1979. This was 11 years after Kate Millett’s Sexual Politics, six years after the Boston Women’s Health Collective published Our Bodies, Ourselves and nine years after Germaine Greer’s The Female Eunuch challenged conventional history. (To offer a […]

  • Happiness: An Occasional User’s Guide

    (Published in Forbes Life India’s Monsoon Edition, for their Curators of Interestingness series. I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed writing and researching a column more.)For the last month, I’ve been unexpectedly contented, occasionally joyful, often outright happy, and this drove me round the bend for about two weeks. Here’s the problem with unexpected, apparently long-lasting […]

  • Free speech: "Cannot you hold your tongue?"

    (Published in Forbes India, January/ February 2011, for its Curators of Interestingness series.) BOOKS: FREE SPEECH “Someone will say: Yes, Socrates, but cannot you hold your tongue, and then you may go into a foreign city, and no one will interfere with you?” From Plato’s Apology, concerning the trial of Socrates. In 399 BC, the […]

  • Speaking Volumes: A quartet of poets

    (Published in the Business Standard, June 20, 2011; one of the last mainstream papers left in India where you can send in an 800-word column on poetry and not be told to go write about Chetan Bhagat.) No one could claim that poetry is dead in India; the closest we can come is the lament […]

  • Book review: River of Smoke, by Amitav Ghosh

    (Published in the Business Standard, June 17, 2011.) River of SmokeAmitav GhoshViking/ Penguin India533 pages, Rs 699 And yet, it is also so familiar: Everywhere you look there are khidmatgars, daftardars, khansamas, chuprassies, peons, durwans, khazanadars, khalasis and lascars.” Letter to Paulette from Robin Chinnery. In 1917, the Bengali writer Sharat Chandra released the first […]

  • Speaking Volumes: Some notes on Sir Vidia’s spleen

    (Published in the Business Standard, June 7, 2011)1. The fact that I possess a womb should disqualify me from commenting on V S Naipaul’s latest broadside. A writer who believes that no woman is his equal as a writer, that women suffer from a “sentimentality, a narrow vision of the world” and that women writers […]

  • Speaking Volumes: Tahmima Anam’s The Good Muslim

    (Published in the Business Standard, May 31, 2011)Writing in the shadow of the attacks on the Twin Towers in 2001, Salman Rushdie commented: “The fundamentalist seeks to bring down a great deal more than buildings. Such people are against, to offer just a brief list, freedom of speech, a multi-party political system, universal adult suffrage, […]