What the world is readinghttps://indianexpress.com/article/news-archive/web/what-the-world-is-reading-116/

What the world is reading

Why is literary fame so unpredictable?


Why is literary fame so unpredictable?

In 1929,when the Manchester Guardian asked its readers to chose novelists who may be read in 2029,John Galsworthy had emerged the most popular. “History seemed to be on his side…but even in the late thirties,Galsworthy’s reputation was already on the wane,” writes Tom Vanderbilt while trying to decode the formula for literary fame. “Is there any way of knowing which of today’s books will last beyond a generation of readers,which will avoid being relegated to winsome curios or turgid pieces of historical sociology? Are there any discernible patterns?” Vanderbilt observes that even bestsellers and books that won prizes don’t seem to last. Finally he comes up with ‘general rules’ that can make a title endure. One,the book should become an object of a film (preferably by the BBC). Two,it’s not how many read you but who reads you. Three,authors who consistently write best-sellers will not last,but every lasting author needs at least one best-seller. Four,become interesting to an intellectual movement.

The Guardian

Pay £2000 to interview Brad Pitt?

On film company Alliance inviting journalists to interview Brad Pitt at Cannes for £2000 for 20 minutes,Simon Hattenstone writes that interviewing celebrities has always been an “exchange of sorts”—stars get to promote their film,albums or books while journalists get pretty pictures,gossip and,hopefully,an insight into the their lives. Not always. “They (actors) tend to spend the whole interview doing just that—acting,telling you yawningly boring anecdotes about the movie they’ve just made or talking in character,playing for time till the publicist informs you your time has run out and could you please leave the room NOW,” writes Hattenstone. “If I were splashing out on a one-on-one hour with Brad Pitt,I certainly wouldn’t be happy with the normal recycled claptrap about age-old drug problem,being too busy to marry Angelina and saving the world by adopting all the poor children. No siree,I’d want genuine exclusive: ‘Bald and impotent at 48—the secret life of Brad Pitt’; ‘Angelina and me—it’s all a sham’; ‘Johnny Depp beats me hands down on screen and

in the sack’… and I’d still expect

change out of my 8 grand,” writes



Taliban poetry and the ‘daughter of the west’

“Poetry of the Taliban is a collection that is as maddeningly confusing as it is revealing,” writes Myra McDonald about the recently published collection of poems which were selected from a Taliban website. McDonald says the collection provides an opportunity to study “the insurgency on its own terms and in its own words and work backwards into what fits best. We might or might not like what we find…Often you feel that the writers want nothing more than to be left alone to return to their villages. The occupiers are,in the words of one poet,the uninvited guest who left him homeless: “The guest became the host. He told me,‘You came today. Be careful not to return tomorrow.”’