21 June, 2021

Go Tell It In A Bazaar

Panda’s transient, on-the-spur columns might embarrass in hindsight but he richly earns his encomiums for his profound essays on a gamut of topics

Photograph by Tribhuvan Tiwari
Go Tell It In A Bazaar

When a common or garden rev­iewer is confronted with a book that is laden with the most lavish commendations, the dilemma of how to review it bec­o­mes manifest. If one praises it, one runs the risk of being accused of just paraphrasing the blurbs: “thoughtful, stylistic, perceptive” (Jagdish Bhagwati); “must read…to understand the critical intersections of politics and public policy” (Manish Tewari) etc. If, on the other hand, the reviewer carps and criticises, one runs the risk of crossing a galaxy of distinguished persons. Nevertheless, here goes.

My first huge disappointment was that this is not the autobiography I thought it would be. It is a collection of columns. When I first took a bunch of my columns to Penguin in 1990—a year after I had started writing them­—the sage David Davidar shook his head and said, “Books of columns do not work”. As I have since discovered, David was spot on: books of columns do not work, for they are written in the spirit of the moment. Both writer and reader are...

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