Culture & Conversation

Another middle class man chauffered through the streets of New Delhi

Delhi: capital of capitals

Writing about a city which has been the subject of not just modern literary narratives but of the subcontinent’s centuries-old erudite Urdu and Persian poets such as Ghalib, Mir and Amir Khusrow, could not have been easy. With diverse characters — from rich businessmen to aspirational, middle-class youth working and call-centre agents, Dasgupta manages to foreground, in original ways, Delhi’s transformational and often contradictory modernity.

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The Nobel enigma

Almost an unknown in the English speaking world, Patrick Modiano recently won the Nobel Prize in Literature for his work which is inspired by disappearance, memory, and the German occupation of Paris. Pour que tu ne te perdes pas dans le quartier, his most recent book, is an enigmatic, puzzling look at childhood memories with a surprising ending.

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Clinging to the Rock

In Michael Crummey’s novel Sweetland, the crusty hero clings to the old Rock with an irrational tenacity. Sweetland is populated with vivid, distinctly drawn characters: Queenie Coffin, a chain-smoking agoraphobic who sits by the window of her house reading romance novels, the wild Priddle brothers, Irish twins who make piles of money in Fort Mac and then come home to drink it all away and the aptly named Loveless and his unfortunate cow.

In Sweet Affliction, Moving Day is mandatory in a dystopic Montreal

Montreal flipped on its tête

Anna Leventhal’s Sweet Affliction has Montreal flipped on its tête – one in which Moving Day is mandatory and sanctioned by the province, one in which Hasidic Jews interact socially with their non-Orthodox neighbours, and one in which the Hippodrome is the set of a twisted reality show where illegal immigrants vie for citizenship.

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“English motherfucker! Do you speak it!”

The award winning 1994 Quentin Tarantino film Pulp Fiction had Shakespearean aspects in it that didn’t seem to be noticed at the time. And yet the cross section of characters, the mixture of tragedy and comedy, the poetic musings of underlings, and nearly everyone dying by the end – it’s hard to get more Shakespeareth than that.