Articles

Talking That Existential Leap with WORLDbytes

At the end of August, I talked to volunteers from the education charity WORLDbytes about That Existential Leap: a crime story. Here is the video.

You can find other WORLDbytes videos on their website. I also recommend their documentary Every Cook Can Govern: The life, impact & works of C.L.R. James and I look forward to 1917: Why The Russian Revolution Matters, which will premiere at the Battle of Ideas in London at the end of October.

Buy That Existential Leap: a crime story.

The gender problem

A hundred years ago, the gender question was about equality, or the lack of it. Today, there is a broad consensus that the sexes should be treated equally, but increasingly agonised debate about what gender actually is. The transgender phenomenon is only the most extreme expression of uncertainty about the relationship between biological sex and gender as it is subjectively experienced by ourselves and others. More quietly and prosaically, many of us simply wonder from time to time if men and women are fundamentally different, or whether such differences as are apparent are no more than the legacy of a less equal society. Continue reading “The gender problem”

The ways they are like us all

My novel, That Existential Leap: a crime story, was in production last year when Lionel Shriver caused a stir by launching a scathing attack at the Brisbane Writers Festival on the concept of cultural appropriation. In particular, she rejected the idea that writers should not write about characters from backgrounds different from their own, that it is exploitative, for example, for a white, male, British author to write from the point of view of a 14-year-old Nigerian girl. As a white, male, British author who wrote much of That Existential Leap from the point of view of a young American woman of Indian origin, I had to agree with Shriver. Continue reading “The ways they are like us all”

Did Anna die for nothing?

51B7vhJixGLThe Idiot, by Elif Batuman (Jonathan Cape 2017)

There is an old librarian joke about a little girl who returns a book to the library and complains that it told her more about penguins than she had wanted to know. Readers of Elif Batuman’s 2010 book The Possessed are likely to have put the book down feeling much the same about Uzbek literature. Continue reading “Did Anna die for nothing?”

Brexit – existential leap or crime story?

jhp577e07d4bf0c3On 23 June last year, two significant events took place, for me at least. First, it was the day of Britain’s referendum on whether to remain in the European Union: I was one of the 17.4 million who voted to leave. Second, I was offered and accepted a contract from Zero Books for the publication of my novel, That Existential Leap: a crime story. Continue reading “Brexit – existential leap or crime story?”

Rustom: populism and prejudice in the age of ‘post-truth’ politics

Last year’s Bollywood hit film Rustom was just the latest fictionalised retelling of the story of Indian Navy Commander KM Nanavati. In 1959, Nanavati shot his wife’s lover dead, only to be found not guilty by a jury that seemed convinced not so much of his innocence as his righteousness. Continue reading “Rustom: populism and prejudice in the age of ‘post-truth’ politics”