27 July, 2021

Writerly Truths

For readers concerned with the politics of writing, the writer's responsibility, the nature of the literary imagination, this is a book that needs to be read from cover to cover.

Writerly Truths
In the hierarchy of writing styles and genres that generally obtains in the literary world, fiction is often valorised as the only ‘real’ writing, while non-fiction comes a poor second. Amitav Ghosh has always been one of my favourite writers and in his impressive body of work, it is the non-fiction that, for me, marks him as distinct. This latest collection—an eclectic mix of academic essays, general prose pieces, reflective and personal musings—only serves to confirm my judgement.

Written over a long period of time, on a diverse range of subjects and put together here for the first time, the pieces might at first mystify the reader. After all, what possible connection can a memoir of the poet Aga Shahid Ali and a discussion of the Baburnama have to do with labour history and an analysis of the Indian diaspora? But on closer reading, a number of themes and concerns emerge which illuminate and elucidate Ghosh’s other writing in ways that the writer himself is often shy of...

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