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Sonia on her mind

Tina Brown is in love with the Jaipur Literature Festival. “I’m addicted to it,” said the former editor of New Yorker and Vanity Fair. Mayank Austen Soofi reports.

india Updated: Jan 23, 2010 23:19 IST

Tina Brown is in love with the Jaipur Literature Festival. “I’m addicted to it,” said the former editor of New Yorker and Vanity Fair. “Jaipur is seeing a most amazing explosion of literary talent. Today I heard the extraordinarily humane, brilliant, enjoyable Wole Soyinka. To attract this kind of talent and to have them in one place is amazing. And look at the kind of democratic, funny, chaotic situation here. It’s very appealing.”

Brown now edits The Daily Beast, a news website she founded a year ago. “The Daily Beast was the name of a newspaper in Evelyn Waugh’s novel Scoop that I took as a literary reference,” she says with a laugh. “For those who don’t know that, it sounds kind of feral. It’s slightly bitchy. It’s a news site that has a lot of vigour and animal spirits in it. We will eventually start a Daily Beast with ‘India content’ too, though it may take a couple of years.”

Brown is so absorbed with her latest project that she has put her biography of Hillary Clinton on hold. The author of the best-selling biography of Princess Diana is considering writing a biography of Congress President Sonia Gandhi instead. “When I first came to India in 2006, I thought why there was no amazing book on her, especially when she has led such a

fascinating life,” said Brown. “The book’s in my plans, though I might be considered arrogant for being someone not an Indian doing a Sonia Gandhi biography.”

Brown may pick a cue from Alex Von Tunzelmann, whose book on the last days of British rule in India Indian Summer — which made news when a film on the romance between

Jawaharlal Nehru and Edwina Mountbatten was supposed to be made based on the book — she greatly enjoyed. “Tunzelmann is not Indian but she wrote a fabulous book on the Partition. It was a damn good story with excellent history where I also get the juicy relationship between Nehru and Edwina.”

Brown is currently reading The Blue Sweater by Jacqueline Novogratz on her Kindle. Before arriving in Jaipur, Brown spent four days in Delhi. “I love that city. Delhiites are passionate about intellectual issues, about ideas, about books.”