“Vikram Seth to me is the standout. His understanding of both fiction writing and poetry is astonishingly good. Arundhati Roy is also a marvellous, sensitive writer. Salman Rushdie might be the most popular Indian author, but he needs to learn from Seth. His writing is unfriendly and provocative,” he says.
Also, having been associated with 26 films till date, the Brighton-born wordsmith confesses why he finds Indian cinema both charming and intriguing. “I find movies with subtitles a bit difficult to watch, but I’d love to know more on the song and dance routine in Bollywood cinema. It fascinates me how all Indian films I have watched brought a smile on my face because of the feel good factor associated with them,” he adds.
James’ passion isn’t restricted to just books and cinema. As a well-known food columnist, he tells us that one of the main purposes of his trip to India this time is to closely sample Indian food. “Indian cuisine is far better than British. Even back in the UK, chicken tikka masala and tandoori chicken score over fish and chips. It is amazing how lentils, chicken, rice and naan can be combined in a single Indian meal,” he says.