Siddhartha Deb

  • Anarchy in the UK

    Almost Brexitian in its bristling hostility to outsiders and the underclass, The Secret Agent (1907) is an openly reactionary novel. This, even though it was written more than a century ago, and by an author whose Polish origins would have rendered him suspect to most contemporary Brexiteers. There are many secrets in Joseph Conrad’s novel, the more obvious ones involving conspiracies, investigations, agents provocateurs, anarchists, and police officers, but at least one of them hides in plain view. This is the secret of what happens when the immigrant writer comes to identify so completely

  • interviews April 10, 2014

    Arundhati Roy with Siddhartha Deb

    "Capitalism: A Ghost Story," Arundhati Roy's most recent book, describes in impassioned detail the consequences of India's economic and political choices over the past few decades. A few Indians have benefited; many, many more have suffered. In late March, Roy spoke with Siddhartha Deb about the increasing wealth divide, the expectations of the "brash new middle class," the impending elections, and the Naxalite protests in the forest.

    Capitalism: A Ghost Story (Haymarket), Arundhati Roy's latest book, describes in impassioned detail the consequences of India's economic and political choices over the past few decades, from which a few Indians have benefited and many, many more suffered. In late March, Roy read from the work to a sold-out hall at the New School. Afterward, she spoke to Siddhartha Deb about India’s wealth divide, the expectations of the country’s “brash new middle class,” the impending elections, and the Naxalite protests in the forest. Roy became famous for her much-admired 1997 novel, The God of Small Things

  • Go East, Young Man

    For quite some time now, Mohsin Hamid has been chipping away at the shape of the novel, testing out the ways form, structure, and narration can be manipulated to set in relief the story he wants to tell. In Moth Smoke (2000), his debut novel about a banker in Lahore on a downward spiral of violence and drugs, Hamid worked into his gritty portrait of Pakistan an allegorical story line about the internecine struggle for succession to the imperial throne in seventeenth-century Mughal India. The deployment of this historical material did not always sit well with Hamid’s deft portrayal of contemporary

  • The Satanic Verses (1988) by Salman Rushdie

    The story in the book begins with an explosion. The story of the book threatened to end with an assassination. In between, slipping and sliding along the five hundred pages of The Satanic Verses, are puns, neologisms, Bollywood songs, Indian names, Arabic names, English distortions of Indian and Arabic names, mythical creatures, advertising jingles, bawdy verses, Koranic verses, and skinhead slogans. And although that list merely describes the book’s linguistic approach—an approach that possibly reached its perfection in an earlier work, Midnight’s Children (1981)—it indicates something of how

  • Reflections

    Madison Smartt Bell

    Flannery O’Connor warned us some fifty years ago that any work of fiction burdened with instructional intent was doomed to become a tract. Or as Sam Goldwyn is reported to have said, “If you want to send a message, use Western Union.”

    Most American novelists seem to act on these principles (whether or not they’ve actually heard them announced). And there is something quite sound in the idea that flaming political passions make for bad art. The fact that it is extremely difficult to define the boundaries of any event while it’s happening has led American novelists to

  • Señor Year

    In 2002, J. M. Coetzee moved from South Africa to Australia, exchanging one white colony for another, leaving behind the fractious, brutal, and failed project of apartheid for citizenship in a democratic state far more successful at dispossessing its indigenous people. Coetzee has lived in places other than South Africa before, notably England and the United States, but the latest break with his home country seems permanent. There is something irrevocable in the act of changing citizenship; in this case, the transfer of allegiance was carried out by a writer whose fiction had been molded in