The Girl Who Ate Books: Adventures in Reading
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A unique collection of essays from one of India's best-loved critics One of India's most widely read journalists, Nilanjana Roy has been writing reviews, columns, essays and features for over two decades. The Girl Who Ate Books reinvents the best of these occasional pieces and weaves them together with a set of new personal essays. From early memories of living in a house made of books, to encounters with men and women who hoarded them, to the author's first taste of the printed word - this is a memoir of reading, loving and living with books like no other. Written in her understated but unfailingly elegant style, this is an indispensable collection for those who live to read and read to live.
lively addas where we meet our fellow writers, in the quiet rooms of our own minds. Earlier versions of ‘Hold Your Tongue’ and ‘Empty Chairs’ were subject to constant revisions, each one marking another assault, another dismaying development. This chapter has no closing sentence. 3 Crossing Over The first home I rented in Goa, for five months’ worth of writing time, was in the village of Calvim. It was a large, spacious white-and-blue house in which I rattled around like a ridiculously
have in common? You hear a lot about them but no one’s actually met one. —Politically incorrect joke found on the Internet I don’t know where you’d go to meet a UFO, but the polar opposite of the conventional sardar joke used to live in Sujan Singh Park. Make an appointment, dodge a clowder of friendly cats, eyeball the legendary sign that advises you not to ring doorbell if you don’t have the said appointment, and spend an hour with Khushwant Singh. Who is—as the old joke has it—still ‘a
for his columns (‘I slog for them—two a week, and I never miss a deadline’), edits, writes, strolls around the garden, and entertains a regulated stream of guests until 9 p.m., when he summarily throws everyone out. Bapsi Sidhwa showed up late after she’d sent him the manuscript of The Crow Eaters: ‘He saw me get out of the taxi and look around confusedly. He clapped his hands to draw my attention and shouted: “You are exactly an hour late. But I forgive you because you have written a first-class
complaining. He orders dimsums, I ask for a light lemon-vegetable soup and we settle into conversation. The Mumbai he’s gone back to in his writing is a city he’s left many times, but never left behind. He spent his early years in boarding school, so Mumbai was ‘one of the first places that felt like home’. As an undergraduate student, he went to the US: ‘But Mumbai functioned as vatan (homeland).’ In the eighties and the nineties, the Mumbai he knew had begun to change. ‘There was always the
possessions and leave with small but precious cheques, is something I wouldn’t be able to find anywhere else. I have no exact word for the feeling that brings me back to the auction houses: a comfort derived not from nostalgia, but from a growing acceptance that the past is over. As families come and go, as the crumbling piles of books are evicted from their homes, weighed and sold to strangers, I feel a reassuring sense of kinship with those invisible readers from the past. On the rusty iron