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In the Waiting-Room of History

Amit Chaudhuri: ‘First in Europe, then elsewhere’, 24 June 2004

Provincialising Europe: Postcolonial Thought and Historical Difference 
by Dipesh Chakrabarty.
Princeton, 320 pp., £42.95, October 2000, 0 691 04908 4
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... arms hanging near its feet, was an ape; it looked intent, like an athlete waiting for the gun to go off. The next figure rose slightly, and the one after it was more upright: it was like a slow-motion sequence of a runner in the first few seconds of a race. The pistol had been fired; the race had begun. Millisecond after millisecond, that runner – now ...

At the Atlantis Gallery

Peter Campbell: The Survey of India, 6 November 2003

... but one of them did do the kind of secret work Kipling describes. He was a schoolmaster, Nain Singh. In 1865 he entered Tibet – forbidden to foreigners on pain of death – disguised as a lama, and mapped Lhasa. Like Kim, he had learned to measure miles by walking without ever altering his stride; like Kim, he used a rosary to keep count of their ...

Indira’s India

Alok Rai, 20 December 1984

... hard-working and earthy, bearded and be-turbaned, and enjoined by the valiant Guru Gobind Singh to bear always the name of ‘lion’, Singh. The story went something like this: the racial pride of this community had been injured by the Army’s behaviour in the Golden Temple, and now they have wreaked their ...


Paul Theroux: Out of Sir Vidia’s Shadow, 24 February 2022

... complex our relationship was, how important – how crucial – it was to my becoming a writer.To go back to Uganda: when I heard that he was coming to teach at Makerere University, where I was on the faculty, I read all of Naipaul’s books. On being introduced to him I told him how much I liked them, and he immediately took to me. No one else at the ...

Dimples and Scars

Sameer Rahim: Jamal Mahjoub, 9 March 2006

The Drift Latitudes 
by Jamal Mahjoub.
Chatto, 202 pp., £14.99, February 2006, 0 7011 7822 1
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... classic published nearly thirty years earlier. In V.S. Naipaul’s The Mimic Men, Ralph Singh, exiled from the island of Isabella and living in a shabby London hotel, also finds control in setting things down: ‘Writing, for all its initial distortion, clarifies, and even becomes a process of life.’ The clarity the two writers pursue is not the ...

A Bottle of Ink, a Pen and a Blotter

Amit Chaudhuri: R.K. Narayan, 9 August 2001

... around without any apparent purpose. Here, for instance, is the novelist and journalist Khushwant Singh on a visit to Mysore forty years ago: ‘Being with Narayan on his afternoon stroll was an experience. He did not go to a park but preferred walking up the bazaars … He would stop briefly at shops to exchange namaskaras ...

At the British Museum

Peter Campbell: Faith, Narrative and Desire, 20 September 2007

... such Mughal details as the flower held deftly between thumb and finger, is a Hindu: Maharana Karan Singh of Mewar. As the refinements of Mughal miniature painting spread south to the Rajput courts, they led to a hybrid style of exceptional beauty and vigour. Although the character of what is shown varies from place to place, there is little sense of individual ...

Rise of the Rest

Pankaj Mishra: After America, 6 November 2008

The Post-American World 
by Fareed Zakaria.
Allen Lane, 292 pp., £20, July 2008, 978 1 84614 153 9
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The Second World: Empires and Influence in the New Global Order 
by Parag Khanna.
Allen Lane, 466 pp., £25, April 2008, 978 0 7139 9937 2
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... argues that the US can accommodate these countries by offering them membership of clubs like the G8. China may remain a prickly ‘challenger’ but with the right kinds of inducement the democratic giant next door can be turned into an ‘ally’. Zakaria believes that the nuclear agreement the Bush administration offered New Delhi, which aroused fierce ...


Susan Fromberg Schaeffer, 12 July 1990

Shadows round the Moon 
by Roy Heath.
Collins, 254 pp., £12.95, May 1990, 0 00 215584 2
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... not how different we are from his Guyanese, but that we are identical with them. Here is Mrs Singh, the Shadow Bride of the novel of the same title, a woman obsessed by her only son: ‘Mrs Singh broke off in the middle of her tirade ... astonished by her conduct, by the realisation after all these years, that her ...

At the Brunei Gallery

Peter Campbell: Indian photography, 1 November 2001

... of a child who knows that make-believe is no joke. A photograph from around 1900 of Sir Raghubit Singh, Maharao of Bundi, sitting on a wide cushion with his many-layered skirt spread in front, his sword in his hand and his quite astonishing divided beard spread around his his face in a black, hairy halo suggests that the formality of the Mughal portrait ...


Amit Chaudhuri, 5 May 1988

... and windows shut, such shabby, reposeful doors and windows, the large signs – DATTA BROS., K. SINGH AND SONS – reflecting the sunlight. The house would reverberate with familiar voices. Sandeep’s uncle, whom he called Chhotomama (which meant ‘Junior Uncle’), was at home. Chhordimoni, Sandeep’s greataunt, and Shonamana, his eldest uncle, had also ...

My word, Miss Perkins

Jenny Diski: In the Typing Pool, 4 August 2005

Literary Secretaries/Secretarial Culture 
edited by Leah Price and Pamela Thurschwell.
Ashgate, 168 pp., £40, January 2005, 0 7546 3804 9
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... a cigarette. ‘Officer, you got me. You’d better send me back to the UK. Deport me. I want to go home. By BA, preferably.’ They still had a smoking section. She’d hoped for better. She narrowed her eyes and gave me another mean look, then told me to wait while she left to make a phone call. Twenty minutes later she returned and grudgingly dismissed me ...

On ‘Spoofing’

Donald MacKenzie: Spoofing, 21 May 2015

... On 21 April​ , the financial trader Navinder Singh Sarao was arrested in West London. The US authorities are seeking to extradite him to stand trial in Illinois after charges were issued against him by the US Department of Justice. The DoJ alleges he was in the habit of ‘spoofing’ futures markets, by entering orders without genuinely intending to buy or sell, and that this contributed to his trading profits of about $40 million between 2010 and 2014 ...

Adulterers’ Distress

Philip Horne, 21 July 1983

A Nail on the Head 
by Clare Boylan.
Hamish Hamilton, 135 pp., £7.95, July 1983, 0 241 11001 7
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New Stories 8: An Arts Council Anthology 
edited by Karl Miller.
Hutchinson, 227 pp., £8.95, May 1983, 9780091523800
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The Handyman 
by Penelope Mortimer.
Allen Lane, 199 pp., £6.95, May 1983, 0 7139 1364 9
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Open the Door 
by Rosemary Manning.
Cape, 180 pp., £7.95, June 1983, 0 224 02112 5
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A Boy’s Own Story 
by Edmund White.
Picador, 218 pp., £2.50, July 1983, 0 330 28151 8
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... count on. The Arts Council Anthology is another collection of 15 stories, but by 14 authors (Carol Singh has two). The sort of generalisation to which a sequential reading invites us here is of course much trickier than that suggested by A Nail on the Head. Most of the stories were submitted in an Arts Council competition and some were printed in this ...

Longing for Croydon

Luke Jennings, 7 February 1991

Them: Voices from the Immigrant Community in Contemporary Britain 
by Jonathon Green.
Secker, 421 pp., £16.99, October 1990, 0 436 20005 8
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The Golden Thread: Asian Experiences of Post-Raj Britain 
by Zerbanoo Gifford.
Pandora, 236 pp., £17.99, October 1990, 0 04 440605 3
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... families, stemming the flow. Most of the migrant workers had originally meant to stay a few years; go back with some money. But it didn’t often work out that way. Most of them stayed. Jonathon Green’s book is not easy reading, nor can it have been intended to be. He has interviewed 103 first-generation immigrants to Britain about their experiences. His ...

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