Amit Chaudhuri, The Immortals

It's been a long time coming. Except that Amit Chaudhuri wouldn't have used those words sung by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. The gifted Indian writer,who teaches contemporary literature at the University of East Anglia, prefers Indian classical music. An accomplished singer himself, he pays homage to the music in The Immortals. Now don't  let […]

Paul Theroux on Kali and Calcutta

In A Dead Hand: A Crime in Calcutta, Paul Theroux describes an animal sacrifice at the Kali temple in Kalighat. A goat, garlanded with flowers, is led bleating into a walled enclosure to the beat of drums. Once inside, the terrified creature is thrust between two upright stakes and caressed by a barefoot priest, who […]

Avatar No 1 on the Net: Indian words in English

Viagra sounds like the Sanskrit word for tiger — “vyaghra”. Henry Hitchens points that out in his delightful book, The Secret Life of Words: How English Became English. The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) notes the similarity but doubts any connection between the two words. The “vi” of Viagra possibly comes from virile and virility, it […]

First Booker for a Brit in five years?

A British writer is likely to win the Man Booker Prize for the first time in five years when the winner is announced tomorrow. Unless the South African born Nobel Prize winner JM Coetzee wins the Booker for the third time — and sets a new record in the Booker's 41-year history. All the five […]

Anthony Burgess on Malaysia

Malaysia celebrated its 52nd independence anniversary recently. So how much has it changed since Anthony Burgess wrote about it in The Malayan Trilogy? The book is based on his experiences as an education officer in Malaysia in the 1950s. In his introduction to The Malayan Trilogy, he writes: “The Malays resented Chinese wealth and were […]

A New World by Amit Chaudhuri

A New World by Amit Chaudhuri Amit Chaudhuri is one of the finest but possibly less known Indian authors writing in English. His language can verge on poetry and be as vivid as a movie. But nothing much happens in his stories. That didn’t matter very much in his early novels, A Strange and Sublime […]

Sublime writing — like a movie

Amit Chaudhuri is one of the best Indian writers in English today. Salman Rushdie may be more flamboyant, but when it comes to describing a scene, Chaudhuri is second to none. He can be as vivid as a photograph or a video. The only reason he is not better known is his short stories and […]

Second Indian Booker winner in three years

The award for the best English novel by a writer from any country except America goes to… an Indian for the second time in three years! Aravind Adiga has won the 2008 Man Booker Prize worth 50,000 pounds ($87,000) for Commonwealth writers for his novel, The White Tiger, set in India. Indian Kiran Desai won […]

Bengalis in 1920s Singapore

I am glad that Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong spoke at the Global Indian Diaspora Conference this morning. His presence there while Singapore officially went into recession underlines the deepening ties between the two countries. India too is caught in the economic turmoil.  Indian banks from tomorrow will be allowed to keep just 7.5 […]

Jhumpa Lahiri and Unaccustomed Earth

Jhumpa Lahiri writes about Indian Americans. But this is really literature of globalisation and the immigrant experience — at the opposite end of Monica Ali's Brick Lane and Kiran Desai's The Inheritance of Loss. Lahiri writes about highly qualified, professionally successful immigrants. But there is the aching loneliness of the outsider in a foreign land […]