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Martin Amis, 61 today, on ageing

Martin Amis is 61 today. Happy birthday. Here's his own take on ageing from his latest novel, The Pregnant Widow, published this year. Martin Amis – never amiss with words: This is the way it goes. In your mid-forties, you have your first crisis of mortality (death will not ignore […]

Good old writers

Who says old geezers can't write? Some of them die with the sharpest minds. That's certainly true of the literary critic Frank Kermode, who has just died at the age of 90. Reading about his death yesterday, I turned to his essays published in the London Review of Books. You […]

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 Singapore Grip

The Singapore Grip by JG Farrell Anyone who loves Singapore should read The Singapore Grip by JG Farrell. He won the Booker Prize in 1973 for The Siege of Krishnapur about the 1857 War of Indian Independence. The Singapore Grip is also a historical novel, describing Singapore at the time […]

Le Carre’s Most Wanted Man

A Most Wanted Man by John Le Carre John Le Carre hates the “war on terror” and sympathizes with its victims. But he has let his feelings get the better of his art in A Most Wanted Man, for sympathy alone cannot animate the title character. Issa Karpov doesn’t come […]

The Widows of Eastwick

The Widows of Eastwick is a reminder of the extraordinary talent of John Updike. He died last month of cancer at the age of 76. This is his last book, published last year. But this doesn’t read like the work of an old man. It has all the zest for […]

Updike’s Terrorist and adulterers

The Terrorist by John Updike India, not Iran, was the first to ban Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses shortly after it came out in September 1988, reminds the Observer. The then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi’s Congress government banned the book under pressure from the opposition Janata Party. Both wanted the […]

Remembering Steinbeck

John Steinbeck died on this day in 1968 at the age of 66, six years after he won the Nobel Prize, which even he himself didn’t expect. Critical scorn When asked by a reporter whether he believed he deserved the prize, he responded, "Frankly, no,” says Robert Gottlieb. In a […]