Saturday, 7 March 2009


Back from Bath Festival last night and straight to London for the Poetry School. This in a break.

Two events at Bath. First to chair a discussion with the Hungarian novelist, Gyorgy Dragoman, author of The White King, and the Anglo-Indian novelist Rana Dasgupta, author of Tokyo Cancelled and now of Solo. Both are in their thirties and there are a number of similarities between their writings but a number of crucial differences too. I don't have the time to expand on this now or even to link to the books named (have done so now), but take my word for it: both The White King and Solo are very fine novels. Or not exactly novels but something close, springing out of the story telling instinct but spreading itself, cutting itself, rearranging itself into shapes not quite like the nineteenth century novel.

Then, after a drink and a brief ceremony led by the Mayor of Bath, I do an event with Gyorgy Dragoman's wife, the poet Anna T Szabo, who is an outstanding talent. We are in conversation with Tim Liardet. We read a poem each, then talk about translation and leaving home, finally reading for another fifteen each, with some questions from the floor.

Rana has had to dash back to London so Gyorgy and Anna and Tim and I go for a meal where we are served by one of the most subtly supercilious waiters I have met in some time: so subtle is he that I am not quite sure that he is being supercilious but am eventually convinced he is. It's not a bad stance. It's self-respect in a waiter. He's quite young and he ought to be driving a Ferrari or running important drugs. He supposes he had better serve us, albeit with a certain irony.

Well, good for you waiter. Irony and a decent house Merlot. OK. Only a small ironic tip for you, my man. Go get that Ferrari.


Anonymous said...

A fan of Gyorgy's am I. Now I will pick up Rana's novel as well. Thank you.

George S said...

The differences are considerable LS. I'll be curious to see what you think. If you wanted to contribute a post on either, or both, books, you'd be welcome.

Gwil W said...

Apropos the subject of supersillyious waiters and overrated restaurants I always recommend a read of Orwell's Keep the Aspidistra Flying.
I will cough to being shown the door at Venice's Harry's Bar after remarking too loudly to my companions that I couldn't stand the smell of burning toast. It's a proud HB boast that the diner can't smell the kitchen.