Shashi Tharoor is a writer-Member of Parliament with several fiction and non-fiction titles to his name, including The Great Indian Novel, Riot, An Era of Darkness: The British Empire in India and many more. An incurable wordsmith, he can effortlessly leave his followers scrambling for the dictionary with an innocent tweet, or for their smartphones to check out his latest meme.
Tell us a bit about your book that came out in 2021…
Pride, Prejudice And Punditry. It encapsulates some of the best of 40 years of published books and columns in one volume. Whether it’s the “essential Shashi Tharoor”, as the publishers have it, is for readers to judge.
Tharoor at the Kolkata launch of 'Pride, Prejudice And Punditry'Amit Datta
What’s the nicest thing someone said about this book?
Modesty forbids my quoting the more generous reviewers! But for the first time in 65 years, my mother held Pride, Prejudice And Punditry in her hands and said she was proud of me. That was worth more than all the rest.
Your standout read of 2021?
Probably Salman Rushdie’s Quichotte, though I read it nearly two years late. It should have been the standout read of 2019, but I didn’t get to it till this year.
A book you didn’t finish or get to, even in 2021…
Vikram Sampath’s two volumes on Savarkar are on my desk, I have leafed through them briefly but their length is intimidating for a busy politician to embark on the full read they deserve.
What did Santa Claus bring you in 2021?
Two granddaughters, born during Covid, whom I am finally able to hold and to hug over Christmas and New Year’s in the US, where they are.
If 2021 was a book, it’d be called?
The closest would be “The Year of Magical Thinking”, which is the title of a Joan Didion book on something quite unrelated. But there was a lot of magical thinking going on in 2021 about Covid, economic revival and the restoration of normal life, which all seem to have been knocked silly by the emergence of Omicron.
What book did you work on in 2021?
I can tell you about the book I should have been working on, but which got derailed by Pride, Prejudice And Punditry and the rest of my workload – a short biography of Dr Ambedkar, which I am still researching though it is six months overdue already.
What did you actually do while you said you were working?
I worked. Though I always manage to sneak glimpses of the cricket score, whenever India are playing.
Tharoor at a cricket match@ShashiTharoor/Facebook
Will you have a book coming out in 2022? Tell us a bit about it…
If I ever get around to writing it, my Ambedkar book should be my contribution to the publishing frenzy for the 75th anniversary of Independence.
Did you make a New Year's resolution?
No. In my experience, most resolutions are broken the day they are made, and rarely recover!
How long will it last, do you think?
Now there’s an existential question! What’s the “it”? My book? Covid? Life? All impossible to predict…