Posts Categorized: Writing

The Agony and Ecstasy of India at the Olympics

The testimony of a disappointed but not resentful Indian fan. My essay for NewYorker.com: Not long ago, I discovered that I could own a piece of my childhood trauma if I shelled out sixteen dollars on eBay. The August 22-28, 1976, issue of the Illustrated Weekly of India, which came out just after the Montreal… Read more »

Pyre

I’m thrilled to report that my essay “Pyre,” published in Granta 130, will appear in Best American Essays 2016, edited by Jonathan Franzen. My mother died in Patna on 7 January 2014. We cremated her two days later on the banks of the Ganga at Konhara Ghat near Patna, more than 150 miles downriver from… Read more »

The Boy in the Ward

In the latest PEN AMERICA journal, with this issue organized around the theme of “hauntings,” I have the following piece: My elder sister was working as a doctor in a hospital in the small town of Darbhanga, in Bihar, in the mid-1990s. I met this boy there. He had fallen from a tree and broken… Read more »

I Testify That

In my final The Bookist column I write about the testimonies offered by Dalits and others. A letter came from Los Angeles. It had been written by an upper-caste Marathi chemist. From this letter, an untouchable poet in Maharashtra found out that Indians in America were treated like dogs. This, I imagine, was in the… Read more »

Remembering Safdar

In listening to Kanhaiya, I remember Safdar. Rohith, Chandrashekhar, Safdar. They are all martyrs. The martrys aren’t just the soldiers at the border or the farmers committing suicide. I typed “Kanhaiya speech” on Google and that fetched 1,310,000 results. There is exuberance in the return on those numbers, but why isn’t there a more ominous… Read more »

Advice to Writers

I have just returned from Delhi (see evidence of my stay above) and delighted to see that Advice to Writers has posted an interview I did with Jon Winokur recently (I have long been a fan of that popular site). How did you become a writer? I must have been fifteen or sixteen. I had… Read more »

Prose That Makes A Sound Like A Cricket Bat

As a writer, and as someone who teaches writing, I’m always interested in sharing writing advice. But never before had I come across anything about writing that uses cricket as an analogy. This is gold. It comes from Tom Stoppard’s play, The Real Thing. The speaker, an established playwright, is arguing against a play that… Read more »

Writers and the Rioters

A movement has been gathering strength in India. To protest against the murder of writers and the silence of the literary body, writers are returning their awards. The recent lynching of a Muslim man on the suspicion that he had beef in his house brought back vividly the violence of the Gujarat riots that took… Read more »

Writing About Cities

In my latest column for HT Brunch, a report on writing about cities: The Jaipur Literature Festival recently came to the US – to Boulder, Colorado, at the foothills of the tall Rockies. Partly as a result of the thin mountain air, and partly because of its wide skies and intense bright light, but maybe… Read more »

Subodh Gupta

In response to an invite from the AAWW, I visited the Queens Museum and wrote about a work of my choice in their exhibition of modernist and contemporary Indian art. The piece I chose was Subodh’s Gupta’s “What does the room encompass that is not in the city?” I had an hour to look at… Read more »