SUCH assessments are dangerously subjective-more a comment on the literary horizons of the person making the selection than on the ultimate validity of his or her choice. To select just one book is difficult. I think The Outsider by Albert Camus was a very significant book. Written in '42, close to the mid-point of this century, its powerful elaboration of the concept of the absurd, in the face of the stubborn opaqueness of the universe in terms of final meanings, was, and still continues to be, a very timely antidote to the cocky superficiality of those claiming to have found all the answers merely because of the mechanical expansion of knowledge. Another book which has been a source of enduring joy for me is Lin Utang's The Importance of Living. First published in '38, this book has few parallels as a textbook for the perceptive epicure of life. Finally, Shrilal Shukla's Raag Darbari. There's no other book I know which makes such a compelling satire on some of the functioning of the world's largest democracy. And its relevance is, if anything, greater today.