Jan Morris and Harold EvansRead more: Jan Morris and Harold Evans
Two people I admire greatly died this year: the legendary editor Harold Evans and Jan Morris, the only writer I know who had written both as a man and a woman.
Can literature be a healer in a pandemic?Read more: Can literature be a healer in a pandemic?
Hamlet tells Horatio: There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,Than are dreamt of in your philosophy. His words seem all too true today if you substitute science for philosophy. Who ever thought a virus transmitted by a bat could disrupt the whole world?
The Narrow Road to the Deep NorthRead more: The Narrow Road to the Deep North
The Narrow Road to the Deep North, which won the Man Booker Prize in 2014, depicts the suffering and brutality inflicted on Australian prisoners of war (POWs) by their Japanese captors who forced them to build the infamous Death Railway though the jungle from Thailand to Burma.
In praise of PG WodehouseRead more: In praise of PG Wodehouse
It feels like heaven,To be reading PG Wodehouse again,Hailed by critics one and all,As the Garden of Eden before the Fall,
Jan Morris’ beautiful diaryRead more: Jan Morris’ beautiful diary
Even in her 90s, Jan Morris remains a pleasure to read. I am re-reading her book, In My Mind’s Eye: A Thought Diary, first published in 2018, when she was 91 or 92 years old. And what a pleasure it is. She is observant as ever, recording her observations in beautiful prose. Filled with fond…
Unleash the poet withinRead more: Unleash the poet within
Unleash The Poet WithinIs a primer for womenTo try their hand at verse,Though why it’s male-averseI’ve no notionOr explanationFor. Is the author,Wendy Nyemaster,A literary feminist,A versifying specialist,Intent on a sororitySkilled in prosody,But absolutely no timeTo teach men to rhyme?
William Dalrymple, Bengal and East India CompanyRead more: William Dalrymple, Bengal and East India Company
Did Bengal’s last independent ruler Nawab Siraj ud-Daula bring about his own downfall and pave the way for the British conquest of India by his attack on Calcutta, destroying the city? The question came to my mind after reading William Dalrymple’s The Anarchy: The Relentless Rise of the East India Company.
The poems of Philip LarkinRead more: The poems of Philip Larkin
Often wry and dry, mocking and wistful in turns, sometimes even bitter and foul-mouthed, Philip Larkin is no Wordsworth, William Blake or Keats. He doesn’t go into raptures about love or nature or into spiritual ecstasy. He isn’t a poet who offers solace or comfort. And yet, as James Booth says in his book, Philip…
Shashi Tharoor: Inglorious EmpireRead more: Shashi Tharoor: Inglorious Empire
I was surprised by Shashi Tharoor’s criticism of India’s parliamentary democracy in his book, Inglorious Empire. He himself is a member of parliament, elected to the Lok Sabha (the Lower House) from Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala on a Congress party ticket. But Tharoor, who had been a minister of state when the Congress was in power,…
Jill Lepore: A history of AmericaRead more: Jill Lepore: A history of America
Jill Lepore’s These Truths is a sweeping history of America from the founding fathers to Donald Trump. As she says, it’s a political history with very little military, diplomatic, social or cultural history though she does refer to the role played by journalism and technology. The internet, she says, has increased inequality and facilitated the…