Comfortably Numb

Sheila Kumar's Storehouse

Published on: 08/14/15 11:05 AM

Book review: Bookless in Baghdad by Shashi Tharoor

I’d been wanting to read this collection of essays about books and not much else,  Bookless in Baghdad by Shashi Tharoor, for a while now. Picked it up for a song at the one and only Blossoms store (in Bangalore) the other day, and I’m glad I did.

Tharoor in my opinion, makes a better essayist than fiction writer, and these short pieces seem to mostly come from the heart.

He touches on PG Wodehouse, St Stephen’s arguable reputation for producing literary stars, the irascible Naipaul, Neruda, Salman Rushdie, books as business, the lack of serious literary critics in India, how he has always been less than impressed with the oeuvre of RK Narayan, and other such bookish topics.

Very well written, with faint traces of charm here and there (just not enough, though) but the overwhelming feeling is that the author is plugging his works and himself, directly and indirectly all through.

He goes in for subtle humble-bragging in many places, makes nasty digs at people (one `literary maven` from Madras, in particular) who have been less than kind reviewers of his books, and adopts a slightly pontificating tone at times.

Harking back to the C -word, some charm would have gone a long way here…!

Bookless In BaghdadessaysShashi Tharoor

Sheila Kumar • August 14, 2015

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