31 July, 2021

The Ink Is Soiled

We can't do without the unique angle of vision that geography lends to literature

The Ink Is Soiled
Many years ago I was in college in America, at a time when most Americans were surprisingly ignorant about the rest of the world. I remember listening to a quiz programme on the radio—there was no TV then—where questions were being put to an audience, and the first person to raise his hand and give the right reply got a money prize. At the end came the big $64,000 question: "Is there any other Athens besides Athens, Ohio?" After a pin-drop silence, one person raised his hand and said, "Athens, Greece." He got huge applause as well as the big prize. I think of that when I hear it said nowadays, with great authority, that there is no Indian writing of worth except diasporic writing. It sounds to me like knowing there is an Athens in Ohio, and having to be told there is also an Athens in Greece. In more ways than one we are living in strange times.

When I was thinking about what to say to you on this occasion, I thought of a wonderful...

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