#BrunchBookChallenge Episode One: Book Reading by William Dalrymple
This last year, digital media came to the rescue in the wake of the global Pandemic and made the impossible a cakewalk - be it online classrooms or game changing boardroom meetings. Similarly, we, at HT Brunch, have taken the much loved #BrunchBookChallenge a step ahead and added a visual dimension to the deal.
We ushered in the New Year, by roping in India's best authors for book reading sessions. And to set the ball rolling, we got celebrated author and historian William Dalrymple to join us for a book reading session from the UK.
William very happily obliged by offering to read excerpts from not one, but two of his books!
Reference to context
The session starts with what he calls "an old favourite, City of Djinns, that I wrote in 1991 when I had a full head of hair," he jokes. The passage from a book he wrote in his 20s is followed with a very short reading from The Anarchy: The East India Company, Corporate Violence, and the Pillage of an Empire, William's most recent book written in his 50s.
"You have 30 years of literary distance between the two readings," says William before he starts to read.
"This passage from City of Djinns, from the UK edition that's slightly different to the Indian one, describes going to meet a man called Ahmed Ali, who wrote one of the greatest novels on Delhi called Twilight in Delhi, which I recommend to everybody," he says.
"Ali no longer lived in Delhi because he was one of the people who fell out at Partition. He wanted to go back to what he regarded as his home, but couldn't get a visa and ended up in Karachi, in some poverty and this is the description of me going to see him in about 1990. This is about meeting the great author of Delhi in exile as he regarded himself towards the end of his life," William explains.
The second reading is from Anarchy, which is about the East India company. "Unlike City of Djinns, a book of conversations, memoirs and biography with notes taken through travelling and meeting people from Delhi, The Anarchy is work of history, research from the archive and story of how one London company in an office just five windows wide managed to replace the Mughal Empire. It's a story full of violence, military activity and double-crossing and at the end of the book, which I'm going to read from now, it makes some comparisons with the great mega corporations of today,” says the author.
The challenge is to complete 60 books in one calendar year. To participate, start with reading a book. After you’re finished, tweet the name of the book along with your count and tag @HTBrunch #BrunchBookChallenge
Please use the same Twitter handle through the year. Out of the 60, at least 15 books must be by Indian authors. All kinds of books and all genres are allowed. There's no language barrier. A lucky draw picks 60 from those who have completed the challenge.
Winners will be announced at the end of January this year. Happy reading and all the best!