Bookless In Baghdad
Shashi Tharoor began reading books'Enid Blyton's Noddy series'when he was three. By the time he was ten, he had published his first work of fiction, Operation Bellows, a credulity-stretching saga of an Anglo-Indian fighter pilot. In between were years when he read a book a day. And in the years since, he has published eight books and written for many Indian and foreign publications. Bookless in Baghdad brings together pieces written over the past decade by this compulsive reader and prolific writer on the subject closest to his heart: reading. In these essays on books, authors, reviews, critics, literary festivals, literary aspirants, Empire, and India, Tharoor takes us on a delightful journey of discovery. He wanders the -book souk' in a Baghdad under sanctions where the middle-class are selling their volumes so that they can afford to live; analyses the Indianness of Salman Rushdie; discusses P.G. Wodehouse's enduring popularity in India; and drives around Huesca looking to pay an idiosyncratic tribute to George Orwell. There are excursions into the pitfalls of reviewing, explorations of the -anxiety of audience' of Indian English writers, and a wicked account of how Norman Mailer dealt with a negative review.