Category: Journal

  • Joan Didion and writing

    Joan Didion and writing

    In the 1970s, Joan Didion did an interview with Tom Brokaw. “It’s the only aggressive act I have,” she says of writing. “It’s the only way I can be aggressive.” Didion died this week at the age of 87, leaving behind a towering legacy as a journalist, a memoir writer, a novelist. Over the years, […]

  • Neil Gaiman on kindness

    Neil Gaiman on kindness

    From a recent interview with Neil Gaiman: Towards the end of our chat, I asked: “You’ve said this consistently for 20, 30 years: Be Kind. Why is kindness so important for writers and creators?”I loved Gaiman’s answer: “Because there’s lots of other people out there saying the other stuff, and because there aren’t enough […]

  • A seat at the table

    Where I grew up, we were taught – or we didn’t have to learn, it was in the air, something you could catch like a virus that settled in your gut – to pay attention to men. If those men were geniuses, then they were owed more than your attention. Adulation, or an unquestioned acceptance […]

  • The Shakti Bhatt First Book Prize: shortlists from 2008

    The Shakti Bhatt First Book Prize: shortlists from 2008

    The prize was set up to “encourage authors from the subcontinent” in honour of Shakti Bhatt, writer and editor of Bracket Books, who passed away after a brief illness on March 31, 2007, at the age of 26. For authors, this is a very special prize — because it’s the only Indian prize for first […]

  • Upendranath Ashk: The telescope and the microscope

    From Upendranath Ashk’s ‘Falling Walls’, translated by Daisy Rockwell, Penguin Books. On editors: “The editors of daily papers toil away like plodding oxen from noon to six in the evening, and then again from nine at night to two in the morning. When they get tired, they make incredibly obscene jokes among themselves. Their faces […]

  • Journal: Reading with intent

    Journal: Reading with intent

    There was a time in my twenties and thirties when I read (or speed-read) about 30-40 books a month, as part of my job as a book reviewer and columnist. In some weeks, the number of books I read ran higher than 10, though 15 was the maximum I could safely attempt. People almost always […]

  • Journal: The elsewhere rains

    Journal: The elsewhere rains

    Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever become a) less absent-minded b) more practical and when I put this question out to the Universe, all I get back is a belly laugh. Unlike almost everyone who’s in Delhi this summer, I haven’t minded the heat, because I was absent-mindedly waiting for the monsoons to roll in […]

  • Journal: Checklist, useful skills

    Journal: Checklist, useful skills

    Below a list of what the well-educated Indian might have learned in the days of Nalanda. I’m a high scorer on toy-making, composing poetry, filing up blanks, using figures of speech, knowledge of lexicons (though not the rest), talking in riddles, conversing in finger-signs; hopeless at deceptive make-up, needlework, embroidery, weaving, fancy-weaving; can cook, have […]

  • Writers on writing

    Erica Jong, writing in 1988: “Perhaps the literary artist is born like a woman with all her eggs present in their follicles; they have only to ripen and burst forth -and ripeness is all. But sometimes it takes half a lifetime for them to ripen.” Susan Sontag in 1961: “The writer must be four people: […]

  • Imaginary places: The Wildings map

    Imaginary places: The Wildings map

    I wish I’d learned to draw properly (more School of Gunter Grass, less School of Edna O’Brien). I blame some of my woeful inability to sketch anything at all on the art teacher who made us draw apples for three months straight after which I a) nursed an aversion to drawing b) still associate apples […]