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After Suharto

Pankaj Mishra, 10 October 2013

... I first visited Indonesia in 1995. For someone from India, as I was, to arrive in a country that was once part of the Hindu-Buddhist ecumene was to drift into a pleasurable dream where minor figures familiar from childhood readings of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata loomed over city squares. The Dutch, unlike the British in India, had inflicted few obviously self-aggrandising monuments on the country they exploited ...

Flailing States

Pankaj Mishra: Anglo-America Loses its Grip, 16 July 2020

... The abyss of history​ is deep enough to hold us all,’ Paul Valéry wrote in 1919, as Europe lay in ruins. The words resonate today as the coronavirus blows the roof off the world, most brutally exposing Britain and the United States, these prime movers of modern civilisation, which proudly claimed victory in two world wars, and in the Cold War, and which until recently held themselves up as exemplars of enlightened progress, economic and cultural models to be imitated across the globe ...

Am I right to be angry?

Malcolm Bull: Superfluous Men, 2 August 2018

Age of Anger: A History of the Present 
by Pankaj Mishra.
Penguin, 416 pp., £9.99, February 2018, 978 0 14 198408 7
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... whose interests it is run and an angry multitude whose interests are ignored. And in this regard, Pankaj Mishra’s account in Age of Anger is not particularly novel. Recent political events have made it impossible to ignore the division between ‘an elite that seizes modernity’s choicest fruits while disdaining older truths and uprooted masses’ and ...

A Bottle of Ink, a Pen and a Blotter

Amit Chaudhuri: R.K. Narayan, 9 August 2001

... I found he was hardly taught, or read. In an essay on Narayan in the New York Review of Books, Pankaj Mishra observes that his novels begin with great energy and promise, and then fail to resolve themselves. This, he says, is because in their structure and movement, they mirror the societies in which their characters live – societies in which ...

Short Cuts

Tom Crewe: High on Our Own Supply, 9 May 2019

... has lost any talent it once had for compromise and pragmatism, has become unmoored from reality. Pankaj Mishra in the New York Times drew a straight line from decolonisation to the ‘aggressive ignorance of English Brexiteers’: ‘none of this would surprise anyone who knows of the unconscionable breeziness with which the British ruling class first ...

Where are we now?

LRB Contributors: Responses to the Referendum, 14 July 2016

... Finn, Dawn Foster, Jeremy Harding, Colin Kidd, Ross McKibbin, Philippe Marlière, James Meek, Pankaj Mishra, Jan-Werner Müller, Susan Pedersen, J.G.A. Pocock, Nick Richardson, Nicholas Spice, Wolfgang Streeck, Daniel TrillingDavid RuncimanSo who​ is to blame? Please don’t say the voters: 17,410,742 is an awful lot of people to be wrong on a ...

Freedom to Tango

Michael Wood: Contemporary Indian English novels, 19 April 2001

Babu Fictions: Alienation in Contemporary Indian English Novels 
by Tabish Khair.
Oxford, 407 pp., £21.50, March 2001, 0 19 565296 7
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An Obedient Father 
by Akhil Sharma.
Faber, 282 pp., £9.99, January 2001, 0 571 20673 5
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The Death of Vishnu 
by Manil Suri.
Bloomsbury, 329 pp., £16.99, February 2001, 0 7475 5270 3
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The Glass Palace 
by Amitav Ghosh.
HarperCollins, 551 pp., £16.99, July 2000, 0 00 226102 2
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... about 40 per cent know Hindi. I’m taking these figures both from Khair and from an article by Pankaj Mishra in the New York Review of Books. Readers and writers of English are thus a tiny minority, but Khair quotes the critic Harish Travedi as saying ‘it is this tiny minority which is the privileged, prosperous, decision-making new ruling caste of ...

Imagine his dismay

Carlos Fraenkel: Salman Rushdie, 18 February 2016

Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights 
by Salman Rushdie.
Cape, 286 pp., £18.99, September 2015, 978 1 910702 03 1
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... in suicide belts, bombs and the virgins of heaven’ – a textbook example of what Pankaj Mishra has called the ‘genitals-centric explanation’ of radical Islam. Rushdie presents his version of The Arabian Nights as the founding legend of the new civilisation that will emerge after the apocalyptic battle between good and evil. In this ...

The State with the Prettiest Name

Michael Hofmann: ‘Florida’, 24 May 2018

by Lauren Groff.
Heinemann, 275 pp., £14.99, June 2018, 978 1 78515 188 0
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... sing to me about G now are largely those that baffled or terrified me when I was first there. (Pankaj Mishra is right: there is so much in that Rousseau word ressentir, ‘to feel for a second time’.) Often these are minority or transient phenomena: the senses recoil from the brute humidity and stifling, often sunless, heat of the days here. There ...

White Happy Doves

Nikil Saval: The Real Mo Yan, 29 August 2013

by Mo Yan, translated by Howard Goldblatt.
Seagull, 117 pp., £9, October 2012, 978 0 85742 160 9
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Sandalwood Death 
by Mo Yan, translated by Howard Goldblatt.
Oklahoma, 409 pp., £16, January 2013, 978 0 8061 4339 2
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by Mo Yan, translated by Howard Goldblatt.
Seagull, 440 pp., £19.50, December 2012, 978 0 85742 076 3
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... perhaps wasn’t aware that Sholokhov is Mo Yan’s favourite Russian writer). Only Pankaj Mishra, writing in the Guardian, took a different tack. He asked why writers under authoritarian regimes were always being called to account for their complicity while writers in liberal democracies were rarely charged with the same: Rushdie himself ...

Where Does He Come From?

Sanjay Subrahmanyam: Placing V.S. Naipaul, 1 November 2007

A Writer’s People: Ways of Looking and Feeling 
by V.S. Naipaul.
Picador, 193 pp., £16.99, September 2007, 978 0 330 48524 1
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... over in the Indian subcontinent: the fiction writer who is also a travel writer. One can see why Pankaj Mishra may read and review Naipaul with an Oedipal frisson. Vatermord or ancestor worship? It can be a hard choice. The five essays in this volume mostly revisit earlier moments in Naipaul’s work. The first essay refers back to the Caribbean of ...

‘I’m not racist, but …’

Daniel Trilling, 18 April 2019

Whiteshift: Populism, Immigration and the Future of White Majorities 
by Eric Kaufman.
Allen Lane, 617 pp., £25, October 2018, 978 0 241 31710 5
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National Populism: The Revolt against Liberal Democracy 
by Roger Eatwell and Matthew Goodwin.
Pelican, 384 pp., £9.99, October 2018, 978 0 241 31200 1
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... writer Ta-Nehisi Coates. That would come as news to Cornel West, Thomas Chatterton Williams and Pankaj Mishra, all of whom have publicly criticised Coates’s ideas, from a variety of positions.* He treats Marcel Duchamp, New Labour, Herbert Marcuse and US affirmative action policies as if they are all part of the same continuous trend. More ...

The President and the Bomb

Adam Shatz, 16 November 2017

... is heightened by the raw, primordial tenor of our politics, above all in the United States. What Pankaj Mishra has called an ‘age of anger’ is also an age of disinhibition, at least on the political right, and it is embodied by the US president, who has set in train a loosening of moral restraints in every sphere. The United States is now governed ...

A Piece of White Silk

Jacqueline Rose: Honour Killing, 5 November 2009

Murder in the Name of Honour 
by Rana Husseini.
Oneworld, 250 pp., £12.99, May 2009, 978 1 85168 524 0
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In Honour of Fadime: Murder and Shame 
by Unni Wikan, translated by Anna Paterson.
Chicago, 305 pp., £12.50, June 2008, 978 0 226 89686 1
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Honour Killing: Stories of Men Who Killed 
by Ayse Onal.
Saqi, 256 pp., £12.99, May 2008, 978 0 86356 617 2
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... us, has been a mainly male discourse since its inception in the 1870s). ‘No Muslim country,’ Pankaj Mishra wrote recently, ‘has ever done as much as Turkey to make itself over in the image of a European nation-state.’ ‘To see honour as a traditional concept,’ Sirman writes, ‘is to render invisible the modes through which it still regulates ...

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