January 16, 2020
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Quick, name our novelists with PhDs and MPhils. Which one of them has been a contributor to the venerable Economic and Political Weekly?


Chained To Desks

Are our novelists over-educated? Only consider: Amitav Ghosh has a PhD in anthropology, while Vikram Seth almost finished his MPhil, before abandoning it for a career in writing, and now we discover Aravind Adiga was also preparing for an academic career. But among our academically well-endowed literary stars, Amitav Ghosh takes the prize: he is the only novelist I can think of who has contributed to that mother of all Indian academic journals: the venerable Economic and Political Weekly. His subject? The lost maritime languages, of course!

In A Smoky Tower

Reviewers in the UK seemed a little underwhelmed by this year’s two big Indian novels—Amitav Ghosh’s River of Smoke and Aravind Adiga’s Last Man in the Tower. While conceding Ghosh’s storytelling skills, and his impressive historical detail, some of them couldn’t help being a little caustic about his addiction to obsolete words and his “looting the dictionary for words that time forgot”. The response to Adiga’s second was equally mixed: many felt it was an improvement on his The White Tiger, but some carped about his tendency of “playing to the audience.” But Indian readers seem determined not to be put off: River of Smoke has soared to the top of the charts in just four days of its release, as no doubt Adiga’s will when it hits the shops on June 30.

Cover For Shiva

If ex-academics dominate our literary world, it’s the IIM finance types who rule over the bestseller lists. Sales of insurance executive Amish Tripathi’s Immortals of Meluha, the first of his Shiva trilogy, has just crossed 1,00,000 since its release last year.

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