Jeet Thayil can have another go at a big prize after losing out at the Booker. His Narcopolis is one of the six novels shortlisted for the $50,000 DSC Prize and he faces competition from Amitav Ghosh (River of Smoke), Mohammed Hanif (Our Lady of Alice Bhatti) and Tahmima Anam (The Good Muslim). The others are Jamil Ahmad for The Wandering Falcon and Uday Prakash for The Walls of Delhi. The jury was headed by writer K. Satchidanandan. The final prize will be announced at the Jaipur litfest.
In Partisan Control
The launch party of Patriots and Partisans by Ramachandra Guha (excerpted in Outlook two weeks ago) proved to be a real treat for the author’s fans. He spoke about himself and the book non-stop for 96 minutes—according to a senior journalist who timed Guha’s extempore. There was a short introduction by Pratap Bhanu Mehta and then it was Guha all the way. What’s more, there was only tea after such a talkathon, nothing stronger than that to help assimilate all that insight.
A Tailor’s Patch
The bitter literary war between Salman Rushdie and classic spy novelist John le Carre may be over after 15 long years. Rushdie had called le Carre a “pompous ass” when he had criticised The Satanic Verses, saying “there is no law in life or nature that says great religions may be insulted with impunity”. Now, at the Cheltenham lit-fest, Rushdie said he admired le Carre’s work and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy was one of the great post-war British novels. For his part, le Carre told a newspaper he regretted the dispute and would warmly shake Rushdie’s hand if he met him now.
Thank you to all those who have taken the trouble to read the article and share their thoughts. Out of the arguments made here, there are two that perhaps need answering. So here they go.
1. The first part of the article compares outcomes (relative percentages of population of the religions concerned) irrespective of the process that led to those outcomes - whether immigration, relatively faster population growth or conversions. This was for two reasons. One, to put the figure of 2.3 per cent in "numerical perspective", as the article itself explained. The second reason was that outcomes are ultimately what the crux of debate is about. The rest of the article in any case dealt with process - or conversions in this case, from both a contemporary and historical perspective.
2. Some commenters have tried to cast doubts on the reliability of Census 2001. Those who do this should bear in mind that Census 2001 was conducted by a BJP government. Considering the extreme importance that BJP gives to this issue, it would be reasonable to expect that IF it had perceived a problem with the methodology that was distorting the numbers, it would have fixed it. As the article mentioned, BJP or BJP-supported governments have been in power for 10 of the last 40 years, or about a quarter of the time, and the only reasonable conclusion one can arrive at is that any misreporting of numbers, real or perceived, would be marginal and hence, not of importance.
To all other arguments made, my answer is the following: Please read the article again, with particular focus on the quotations of Vivekananda and Monier Williams, and the history of the missionary efforts in Bengal and their outcome.
Whatever the quality of your magazine, the gossip in Bibliofile used to be fresh, spicy and entertaining. It is now uniformly stale and insipid. Inexplicable really. The Rushdie-Naipaul spat was fun to read on your website some 20 days back but to find it blandly featured here so late and so shoddily is strange, really.
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