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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 ...

Spot the Mistakes

Thomas Jones: Ann Patchett, 25 August 2011

State of Wonder 
by Ann Patchett.
Bloomsbury, 353 pp., £12.99, June 2011, 978 1 4088 1859 6
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... music in Bel Canto is taken in Patchett’s new novel, State of Wonder, by medical science. Marina Singh is a mild-mannered 42-year-old research scientist at Vogel pharmaceuticals in Minnesota. She used to be a gynaecologist but switched to pharmacology after an emergency caesarean section went gothically wrong – she sliced the baby’s eye with a ...

Light, Colour and Real Estate

Amit Chaudhuri: Vikram Chandra’s short stories of Bombay, 21 May 1998

Love and Longing in Bombay 
by Vikram Chandra.
Faber, 257 pp., £6.99, March 1998, 0 571 19208 4
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... in ‘Kama’, which begins with a murder; the protagonist is a police inspector, Sartaj Singh, whose marriage has broken down – Singh is one of the many nobodies with whom Chandra populates his cityscape (the unnamed narrator and the storyteller Subramanian are two others); he represents both a strange ...

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 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 ...

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 ...

On ‘Spoofing’

Donald MacKenzie: Spoofing, 20 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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...


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 ...


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 ...

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 ...

Strange Things

John Bayley: The letters of Indian soldiers, 2 September 1999

Indian Voices of the Great War: Soldiers’ Letters 1914-18 
edited by David Omissi.
Macmillan, 416 pp., £17.50, April 1999, 0 333 75144 2
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... the letters they sent home to mothers, fathers and brothers, mostly in the Punjab, are anything to go by. Similar letters home, sent by British soldiers to Surrey or Wolverhampton or Newcastle, were, it is true, mostly composed in the same vein: it was considered almost a military duty to sound cheery, and to conceal the real horrors of war from the folks back ...

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