Categories
Books

The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby

Reading Tom Wolfe for the first time was like listening to rock ’n’ roll. I was blown away.


But reading him now after all these years is like listening to Little Richard. His breathless opening paragraphs, his occasionally manic style, can be overpowering at times.

Categories
Books

Pico Iyer, Video Night and Indians

Pico Iyer gets India so right in Video Night in Kathmandu. He is spot on about Indians being allured by America but many of them being Anglophiles, too, in the 1980s.

Categories
Books

Bill Clinton: My Life

I have been reading Bill Clinton’s memoirs, My Life, and am pleasantly surprised. He has an easy conversational style and there are charming vignettes in the book. His love for his mother and his grandparents — “Mammaw” and “Papaw” — his feelings about his stepfather, whose surname Clinton he took, all come through.

Categories
Books India Singapore

Indians in Singapore

Once upon a time, there were more Indian than Chinese voters in Singapore. Hard to believe but true.

Indians outnumbered the Chinese when the first general election to the Legislative Council was held in 1948. Only British subjects were eligible to vote. Out of a potential electorate of more than 200,000, only 23,000 registered to vote, and more than 10,000 of them were Indians, recalled CM Turnbull in A History of Modern Singapore, 1819-2005.

Categories
Books India Media Singapore

Raffles, Singapore, Calcutta and Bengal

When a young man came to Singapore from Calcutta many years ago, he didn’t know he was following in the footsteps of Sir Stamford Raffles. The one difference: He came by air. Raffles came by sea — on the ship Indiana, with his deputy, Major William Farquhar, on board another vessel, the Ganges.

Categories
Books

What happened to the Hindu god of love?

Cherubic Cupid, winging his way with bow and arrows to shoot at hearts, graces countless valentines. The little Roman god of love has proved more durable than the Roman empire. What explains his lasting appeal when another god of love languishes in relative obscurity?

Categories
Books

Naipaul and his world

Naipaul was “the greatest prose writer in the English language of the last 60 years”, wrote Amit Chaudhuri in the Guardian when Naipaul died at the age of 85 on August 11. Others were more measured in their praise. They could not overlook his flaws and prejudices. Naipaul himself provoked criticism by what he said and wrote, admitting he had been a “big prostitute man”, ill-treating his first wife, Patricia Hale, and his long-time mistress, Margaret Gooding née Murray, and offending blacks and Muslims among others.

Categories
Books

Shakespeare Basics for Grown-ups

Shakespeare Basics for Grown-ups comes with the subtitle: Everything You Need to Know about the Bard. That sounds rich, but the authors E Foley and B Coates deliver. Concise, comprehensive, it’s a great briefing on the Bard.

Categories
Books

Orwell: Why I Write, BBC and Reflections on Gandhi

Anyone who likes to write will probably agree with some of the things George Orwell (June 25, 1903 – January 21, 1950) has to say on why we write. In his essay, Why I Write, which appeared in 1946, four years before he died at the age of 46, Orwell wrote:

Categories
Books

RK Narayan’s Malgudi Days

RK Narayan enjoyed writing short stories more than novels. He said so in the introduction to his collection of short stories, Malgudi Days.

First published in Penguin Books in 1984, Malgudi Days includes selections from his earlier collections, An Astrologer’s Day and Other Stories (1947) and Lawley Road and Other Stories (1956 ), as well as stories that had appeared in such publications as The New Yorker, Playboy and Antaeus.