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December 10 , 2007

Homeless on Google Earth


‘Homeless’ in the title of this book means ‘cosmopolitan’. Mukul Kesavan, considered by many to be India’s most articulate and sophisticated scholar-journalist in English, covers a huge range of political and cultural subjects, local and international, in this collection of opinion pieces. These include Hollywood and Bollywood, Salman Rushdie and Martin Amis, Steve Jobs and Julian Assange, Sri Lanka and Israel, wildlife at the Kruger National Park and beachlife in Goa.Kesavan’s viewpoints can veer from being scrupulously rational to extravagantly funny. Regardless of the tone he adopts, his observations are acute, his analysis of what he notices Orwellian. The perspective and worldview that emerges is that of a truly global intellectual who is both admirably idiosyncratic and secular to the point of being hidebound, a combination which makes this essay collection quite exceptional.Identifiably Indian in its location, this book is written with such uncommon flair and intellectual passion, and in an idiomatic English of such polish and perfection, that it transcends the local. Journalism was never meant to be this good, and in India it has never been. The newspapers and newsmagazines in which this stuff first appeared just got lucky—this quality of writing should have originated in a book and been enshrined there forever.
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