The Cooking of Books

audiobook (Unabridged) A Literary Memoir

By Ramachandra Guha

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It is not often that an author and his editor strike up a relationship which survives forty years of epistolary exchanges and intellectual sparring. The strangely enduring and occasionally fractious friendship which developed between the famously outspoken historian Ramachandra Guha and his reticent editor Rukun Advani is the subject of this quite eccentric and thoroughly compelling literary memoir. It started in Delhi in the early 1980s, when Guha was an unpublished PhD scholar, and Advani a greenhorn editor with Oxford University Press. It blossomed through the 1990s, when Guha grew into a pioneering historian of the environment and of cricket, while also writing his pathbreaking biography of Verrier Elwin. Over these years Advani was Guha's most constant confidant, his most reliable reader. He encouraged him to craft and refine the literary style for which Guha became internationally known – narrative histories which have made vast areas of scholarship popular and accessible. Four decades later, though he no longer publishes his books, Advani remains Guha's most trusted literary adviser. Yet they also disagree ferociously on politics, human nature, and the shape of their commitment to India. They usually make up – because it just wouldn't do to allow such an odd relationship to die. Built around letters and emails between an outgoing and occasionally combative scholar and a reclusive editor prone to private outbursts of savage sarcasm, this book is never short of the kind of wit, humour, and drollery that has been strangled by contemporary political correctness.
The Cooking of Books