February 23, 2020
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Wordsmith’s Forge

Some of the world’s best writers shared their trade secrets at the Jaipur litfest last week. Pulitzer Prize-winner Lawrence Wright went a step further: he opened up his toolkit—a backpack that contained everything a writer needs for thorough journalism. And the tools? Among a dozen other things, a legal pad (because it has more lines than ordinary writing pads and a cardboard back so you can rest it on your knee), a cellphone (so you can insert a local card, thereby making it easier for sources to call you without making international calls), a tape recorder (so that both you and your source don’t ever confuse the intimacy for friendship), fountain pen and ink (easier to write with than ballpoint pen) and of course, anti-diarrhoea and sleeping pills.

Smoking, a Thriller

The best anti-smoking evangelists are usually former smokers. And when you combine that with excellent narrative skills, you can imagine the effect. At a private party hosted for some of the visiting writers by Random House chief editor Chiki Sarkar, Louis de Bernieres had a field day regaling his fellow diners with blood-chilling stories of strapping working-class men in his blue-collar neighbourhood reduced to skeletons, causing at least one of them to almost choke on the cigarette he lit between courses.

Ask For Twins

“Is this your first?” You can hardly blame Bangladeshi writer Shazia Omar, pregnant with her second baby, for presuming she was being asked about her book, A Diamond in the Sky, rather than her baby.

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