Category Archives: Books

Why, for 18 months, I focused on reading only Arab authors

By Maán Jalal

I’m looking at my goddaughter, who is five, unwrapping the present I have given her. She tears the wrapping slowly at first, then rips it open with one swipe, giggling as she turns over the hardcover of a rather substantially-sized book. Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls 2 by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo, I read her the title. As I explain what the book is about, she turns the pages and looks at the illustrations.

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What is with this misplaced obsession with ‘greatness’?

By Maán Jalal

On May 14, the American author and journalist Tom Wolfe passed away at the age of 88. A satirist, social commentator and observer, Wolfe was a writer whose style changed journalism and influenced a generation of writers after him. Wolfe’s novels forced us take a closer look at society and what we are preconditioned to worship within it. He wrote about social status, our obsession with it and the anxiety it causes — a subject that will never seize to be relevant.

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How I discovered Roth at a bookshop’s clearance sale

By Nivriti Butalia

I first found Roth at a clearance sale of, I think, Om Book Shop in DLF Phase 3, Gurgaon. It wasn’t called Gurugram then. Must have been 2008 or 09. I was excited that a hardback was going so cheap. I hadn’t read Philip Roth but my pretentions were on point. I liked buying books for their covers. Books had to look good and smell good. The font had to be big but not too big. And the more unfamiliar the name of the publishing house, the cooler I felt.

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Why you should read everything with Ferrante’s name on it

By Nivriti Butalia

Lila’s eyes narrowed.

I wish I had counted the number of times Lila’s narrowing eyes occur in the four books that make up The Neapolitan Novels. Does Elena Ferrante, the author, like repetition? Did she forget how often she resorts to it or was the descriptor deliberate? It’s there, a lot. In My Brilliant Friend, in The Story of a New Name, in Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, and in, The Story of the Lost Child, all published between 2012 and 2014.

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