Book recommendations from Salman Rushdie

I want to start by saying that I love twitter!

Salman Rushdie posted a couple of tweets about how he has presented Anita Desai with the India Abroad Lifetime Achievement Award and that she is a great writer. He even called her The Indian Austen. Naturally, this kindled my interest so I asked him which books he would recommend. He recommended two: Clear Light of Day and In Custody.

Now I’ve just finished reading Rushdie’s novel Shalimar the Clown. How amazing is it then to be able to reach out to this great author and get some recommendations to another writer? How amazing is it that he actually answered?!

I’ve done a tiny bit of research afterwards to learn more about Anita Desai and the books recommended by Rushdie.

Born in 1937, Desai is an Indian novelist who has been shortlisted for the Booker three times. Apparently, she published her first story at the tender age of nine! She is the mother to the Booker winning novelist Kiran Desai (who won the Booker award 2006 for The Inheritance of Loss – she is apparently in a relationship with Orhan Pamuk, the famous Turkish novelist).

Desai writes both novels, children’s literature and short stories. Writing in English, Desai writes about Indian life, gender roles, the importance of families, how women in India rebel against the traditional patriarchal society and it’s norms and values, and the complexities of modern Indian life and culture.

Since Anita Desai published her first book in 1963, Cry, the Peacock, she has written at least 16 books, the last being The Artist of Disappearance (2011).

Clear Light of Day (1980)

Set in India’s Old Delhi, CLEAR LIGHT OF DAY is Anita Desai’s tender, warm, and compassionate novel about family scars, the ability to forgive and forget, and the trials and tribulations of familial love. At the novel’s heart are the moving relationships between the members of the Das family, who have grown apart from each other. Bimla is a dissatisfied but ambitious teacher at a women’s college who lives in her childhood home, where she cares for her mentally challenged brother, Baba. Tara is her younger, unambitious, estranged sister, married and with children of her own. Raja is their popular, brilliant, and successful brother. When Tara returns for a visit with Bimla and Baba, old memories and tensions resurface and blend into a domestic drama that is intensely beautiful and leads to profound self-understanding.

In Custody (1984)

Touching and wonderfully funny, In Custody is woven around the yearnings and calamities of a small town scholar in the north of India. An impoverished college lecturer, Deven, sees a way to escape from the meanness of his daily life when he is asked to interview India’s greatest Urdu poet, Nur – a project that can only end in disaster.

I also got an answer from Susan Hill (I am the King of the Castle and more) who also thinks Anita Desai is a wonderful writer.

So what this means is that I’ve discovered a new author to add to my wish list, an author I hope to get around to reading soon since her books sound very interesting!

Read more:

In conversation: Kiran Desai meets Anita Desai – The Guardian

Which Stephen King novel is the best?

So Stephen King has written 62 books – novels, nonfiction and short stories collections. 62! Now, I’m a Stephen King fan and I’ve read a lot of his books, but not all. Not all his books are good though – some are really bad. (Tommyknockers, I’m looking at you!). But which Stephen King book is the best?

So at, they decided to make a list of all 62 books – and rank them! So which Stephen King book do they think is the best?

They think Rose Madder is the worst of all his books. I don’t think so – I think it’s an amazing book up to a point and then it’s just … confusing. Tommyknockers – the book that turned me off reading English novels for a while since I thought it must be me being lousy at English that made the book so bad – is nr. 61 and Dreamcatcher is nr. 60. I haven’t read Dreamcatcher but the movie version is on my top two of all time bad movies (the other being Dungeons & Dragons).

Gerald’s Game is at 54. I remember it as having the 2-3 creepiest pages ever. Pages, that it took me days to read. I don’t remember anything about the rest of the book so the ranking is probably okay but those few pages …

The have Christine at 46 and Duma Key at 45. I’m not sure I agree with that. Christine – well, maybe. It was a teenage favorite of mine and I’m looking forward to reading it again to see how it holds up. I really liked Duma Key though – I liked it’s focus on art. I also really like Bag of Bones and I don’t quite agree with it being ranked as no 40.

The Dark Half is no 28 – hm. I love it when Stephen King looks at his own trade as he does in this one and he writes about an author burying his pseudonym at the same time as he gave up his pseudonym. I liked that! And if 11.22.63 is only no 24, well, then all I can say is that King has written some pretty good books since 23 of them are better than this one.

But if they think I’m going to agree with putting Under the Dome as no 12, they are so mistaken. That was an excellent book – but King messed up the ending so badly that it broke the entire book.

This is their top 10:

10. Lisey’s story

9. The Dead Zone

8. Salem’s Lot

7. The Dark Tower IV: Wizard and Glass

6. Misery

5. Different Seasons

4. The Shining

3. It

2. On Writing

1. The Stand

I’ve read 5 of this top 10 and I like them all. I definitely agree with The Stand being the best of all King’s books – and On Writing was amazing and so was Itand The Shining. I’m also okay with The Dead Zone being in the top 10.

You can see the entire list here.

Anyone disagree with The Stand being the best King book?