Bibliofile

Kamila Shamsie has only one plea to the powers that be: at least ease the travel hassles for people to cross the border

Karachi’s Best Face

Kamila Shamsie, ebullient and erudite, says she is not a political person. She wouldn’t want to talk about India-Pakistan relations, but has only one plea to the powers that be. Can’t they at least ease the travel hassles for people to cross the border? When she comes to Delhi from Lahore, she has to spend the good part of a day at the Foreigners Registra­tion Office. Getting a visa to the cities she wants to visit in India to promote her latest book, God In Every Stone, is not an easy thing. The easy charm with which she endears herself to her fans and friends at the British Council lawns in Delhi at a session to discuss the book seems to have missed the bureaucrats on either side of the border. It’s tough not being able to travel freely in the biggest market for her books—she reckons Pakistani authors writing in English sell more books in India than the US, UK, Canada and Pakistan put together.

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Plot On Hustings

It’s poll season and there are many books lined up on the theme of the election—biographies of leaders, books on controversial poll issues (for instance, Gas Wars by journalist Paranjoy Guha Tha­kurta, due to be out this month) and election analysis. But the first fiction book off the block is The Candidate, by journalist and Outlook contributor Anirudh Bhattacharyya, a satire in which a well-meaning first-timer, Jay Banerjee, finds himself completely immersed in the rough and tumble of an Indian election. Is he based on Arvind Kejriwal? No, says Anirudh, when he thought of the plot for his book, Kejriwal was still a little-known activist fresh from the IRS.

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