We That Are Young: Dreams and Dystopias

Prayaag Akbar and Preti Taneja in conversation with Mohini Gupta Preti Taneja and Prayaag Akbar, the authors of two outstanding debut novels, speak of dreams and dystopias in imagination and reality. Taneja’s We That Are Young transports Shakespeare’s King Lear to the contradictions of New Delhi and is a devastating commentary on contemporary India. Akbar’s… Read more »

Reinventing the Novel

Unlike the epic poem and the travel book, the novel is not a universal cultural form: it has its origins in specific literary experiments in 18th century England. Yet the novel is now regarded as the preeminent literary form. How did this happen and how does the novel keep reinventing itself? Moreover what is its… Read more »

Ideas of China

As with India, everyone has their own ideas of China, their own perceptions of the Middle Kingdom and its place in the modern world. Writers, scholars and journalists from different cultures and disciplines offer their insights and perspectives into the civilisational philosophy and cultural and political history of China and speculate on its future in… Read more »

India’s Elephants: A Cultural Legacy

The Indian elephant, gentle in disposition, fierce in battle, beloved in festivals, is an enduring symbol of our culture. Tripti Pandey speaks of myths and legends, religious interpretations, festivals and rituals associated with the largest land mammal in the planet, and shares anecdotes and stories from her richly illustrated book, ‘India’s Elephants : A Cultural… Read more »

After Patagonia: Remembering Bruce Chatwin

When Bruce Chatwin’s In Patagonia was published in 1977, it heralded the arrival of a startling new talent in literature. Critics were surprised and spellbound by a story of an adventure that blurred the boundaries between travel writing, biography, history and memoir. All readers recognised its timeless quality and it was immediately pronounced a ‘classic’…. Read more »

Women of the Revolutions

Since the Arab Spring began, women in the Arab world have had two revolutions to undertake: one fought with men against oppressive regimes and another fought against an entire political and economic system that treats women as second-class citizens. In this session, women writers from Syria and Palestine talk about their two different revolutions in… Read more »

The Rohingya Crisis

Since late August, more than a quarter of a million Rohingya Muslims have flooded into Bangladesh in just two weeks with the emergency situation in Rakhine State, worsening after reports of violent clashes that have allegedly resulted in over 1,000 Rohingya Muslims butchered, raped and killed. The UN Refugee Agency has estimated over 290,000 people… Read more »

The Green Road into the Hills: Writing the Natural World

In nurseries and universities, apiaries and allotments, town and theatres, woodlands and festivals, charities and campaigns—and in photography, film, music, the visual and plastic arts and throughout literature—a remarkable renaissance in green writing has been taking place. But how do you write about nature? And what is it that has led to a massive revival… Read more »

The Book of Chocolate Saints

Award-winning poet and novelist Jeet Thayil’s intense and incandescent prose finds new voice in his latest novel, The Book of Chocolate Saints. Narrated in a variety of voices and styles, it tells the story of Newton Francis Xavier, painter, seducer, philosopher and recluse. Thayil introduces us to a host of memorable characters, including the Bombay… Read more »

Closing Debate

The power of #MeToo has been to show the pervasiveness of work-related sexual assault and harassment. It has brought abusers into the open and shaken men out of a convenient and comfortable oblivion. The historical misconduct against women seems to be reaching a tipping point. But men too are vulnerable in the moral and social… Read more »

The Dawn Watch: Joseph Conrad in a Global World

A visionary exploration of the life and times of Joseph Conrad, his turbulent age of globalisation and our own, from one of the most exciting young historians writing today, Maya Jasanoff, Coolidge Professor of History at Harvard. Migration, terrorism, the tensions between global capitalism and nationalism and a communications revolution: these forces shaped Conrad’s destiny… Read more »