Sunday, November 4, 2012

Book man and his follies

Those who live by the book will die by the book’s folly.

“After all, as a book man, I should judge a book for its literary merit, irrespective of its subject matter.  Poppycock.”

The above quote is from Vikram Kapur’s article in today’s [4 Nov] Hindu Literary Review.  I would have certainly expected more sense from The Hindu editors than this poppycock from Mr Kapur who claims to be “a book man” but depends more on Google than books.

Mr Kapur’s article is poppycock par excellence.  He says Hilary Mantel did not deserve the Man Booker Prize for her first novel, Wolf Hall, merely for:

1.      Thomas Cromwell’s name had to be searched by Kapur on Google.
2.      Henry VIII married 6 times.
3.      Thomas Cromwell did not have the temerity to murder Henry VIII unlike Oliver Cromwell who did possess that temerity to kill his monarch and hence is familiar to Kapur.
4.      The theme of Wolf Hall is not relevant today since “there is no altercation between the Protestants and the Catholics.”  The altercation is between “the West and fundamentalist Islam.” [emphasis added]
5.      The novel is not set “in the days of the Crusades.”

I wonder why Mr Kapur did not bother to consider the title of the novel at least.  And the repeated statements in the novel about “man being wolf to man.”  Wolf HallI is about the theme of man being wolf to man, a theme which is relevant at any time. 

Kapur admits that he did not even bother to read Mantel’s novels.  Having searched the Google to ascertain that his knowledge about Henry VIII’s 6 marriages and Thomas Cromwell’s role in the monarch’s life, Kapur decided that it was “the end of my desire to read Bring up the Bodies [Mantel’s second novel to win the Man Booker Prize, Mantel being the only writer to win the Prize two times in the 44-year history of the Prize] or, for that matter, its predecessor Wolf Hall.”

In short, Kapur did not even read Mantel’s books.  What right does he have to write anything about her books?  Why did The Hindu publish his “poppycock”?  And that too in a literary review supplement?
Kapur thinks Mantel won the Prize because of the British nostalgia for its ancient eminence!  But why on earth would The Hindu want to support the British nostalgia?  I don’t know.   Why in hell would The Hindu publish an article on an author by a writer who has not even bothered to read the author?  That indeed is a mystery to me.

Is The Hindu really competing with The Times of India? J

If yes, I won’t laugh really.

But I am also a man who loves books.

PS. I have already bought Mantel’s second Prize Winner novel.  Looking forward to time for reading it after completing all the never-ending duties assigned to me by my ever-increasing number of bosses…


  1. Flies like Kapur are part and parcel of the market. What is tragic though, they are being accorded undue prominence.

    1. I really wanted to ignore Kapur. But the temptation to put my aversion in black and white became irresistible. Hence this blog. I mailed a letter to the editor of the Hindu too.

  2. Sounds like they had some empty space and didn't know what to do with it. To me, it reflects badly on the newspaper rather than on the person who wrote that article.

    1. It does reflect badly on the newspaper, Deepak ji. That's my major problem. The Hindu's literary supplement is something I used to rely on for substantial articles. The paper is corroding my trust.


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