Lifelong creativity and PD James’ tips for writers

God bless PD James! At the age of 93, she wants to write one more detective novel. Amazing. Let’s hope it will feature Adam Dalglish, the Scotland Yard detective who has been her hero since her very first novel, Cover Her Face, published in 1962. Last seen in The Private Patient, in 2008, it’s time […]

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 can't tell his age from […]

Martin Amis on life and Kingsley Amis

Martin Amis (left) describes seeing his father, Kingsley Amis (below), in a dream in his autobiography, Experience. Published in 2000, five years after his father's death, it's one of the most intimate accounts of a father-and-son relationship that I have ever read. He writes: Why should I tell the story of my life? I do […]

Try to read: John Updike

I just saw this John Updike interview with Charlie Rose. http://video.google.com/googleplayer.swf?showShareButtons=true&docId=9117403580929163007%3A0%3A390000&hl=en Updike recalls he grew strawberries to pay his way through college and then became a copy boy for the Reading Eagle newspaper in Pennsylvania. The copy boy had to carry "copy" — news and stories — from the newspaper's editorial room for the printers […]

Raffles Hotel, Chowringhee and Death In Venice

Singapore's Raffles Hotel and the Bengali writer Sankar (real name Mani Shankar Mukherjee) both feature in Brick Lane author Monica Ali's excellent essay on hotels and writers. The essay in the British magazine Prospect follows the publication of her hotel-based novel, In The Kitchen, which I am dying to read. Ali praises Sankar's popular Bengali […]

Updike, the most sensuous writer in English

The most sensuous writer in the English language is dead. No one wrote more sensuous prose than John Updike. He carried his lyricism into his 70s. He was 76 when he died yesterday. The cause was lung cancer, according to his publisher, Alfred A Knopf. He was – for his style and views perhaps – […]

Naipaul’s seven rules for aspiring writers

VS Naipaul advised aspiring writers to practise what he had learnt from his father, says Patrick French in his biography of Naipaul, The World Is What It Is.  When the Indian website Tehelka asked Naipaul to suggest some rules for aspiring writers, this was the advice he gave: Do not write long sentences. A sentence […]

Paul Theroux revisits Asia

Ghost Train To The Eastern Star by Paul Theroux Paul Theroux has written an immensely readable sequel to The Great Railway Bazaar, repeating that railway journey from Europe to Asia and back which earned him fame and fortune more than 30 years ago. It is bursting with people and places, rich in indelible portraits. I […]

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 […]

Marquez biographer talks about the author

Even those who have not read Gabriel Garcia Marquez will enjoy listening to The Strand, the BBC World Service arts and culture programme, where Gerald Martin tells Harriett Gilbert how he wrote Marquez's biography. The 1982 Nobel Prize winner for literature emerges as such a fascinating figure that one immediately wants to read him. The […]