It’s not usual at a drinks party to spot a Nobel Laureate out the corner of your eye. Orhan Pamuk, currently in exile after a series of death threats following his recent acquittal in the Turkish courts for “insulting Turkishness” is a rare bird to spot. Kind of like bagging the Yves Saint Laurent of literature.
When JSL called to persuade me to a small do up the road on E 18th, I hadn’t quite grasped that it was the literati-filled New York launch of William Dalrymple’s lauded book, The Last Mughal: The Fall of a Dynasty: Delhi, 1857, which came out here last week, following its English launch last year. Hosted by Suketu Mehta,(who wrote Maximum City), at his beautiful townhouse, Booker-winner Kirin Desai was there too.
Although I spent much of my twenties on a travel magazine for which Dalrymple wrote, I didn’t get around to reading any of his books until I was struck down with shigella dysentery in India whilst I was on assignment a couple of years ago. I spent a miserable week being poked and prodded in UCH’s tropical diseases ward and, desperate to read about the country, even if I was too ill to travel around it, chewed up his entire works with increasing glee. City of Djinns, his account of a year spent in New Delhi as an foreign correspondent sticks most in my mind. It’s an eminently readable, eloquent and witty study of an ex-pat’s life in that cacophonous and bewildering city, intertwining his domestic travails with a meticulous, almost wistful, account of the history of Delhi.
He’s an award winning bestseller in England now, and deserves to have an equal success in America. His readability, certainly not a given with historical works, and his sound analysis are reason enough for his works to transcend the British fascination with the Raj, and gain him a global readership.
I spent most of the evening talking with JSL, of course, a beautiful Colombian member of a think tank dealing with Latin American politics & culture, an al Qaeda expert from NYU’s Center on Law & Security, a fascinating Turkish doctor & an NY Times book reviewer. Gloriously fashion-free, if a little heavy going at times.
The earlier part of Saturday can be summed up as follows:
Union Square Greenmarket. Not a patch on Borough, and a somewhat disappointing dearth of snacks for JD & me, hungry as usual.
Purchasing the new Kaiser Chiefs’ album. Excellent. Go buy it.
Burgers at Paul’s in the East Village. Excellent. Go eat there.
East 11th St flea market. Excellent. Go pick up cheap frocks there.
Buying cold remedies at Rite Aid. Excellent range of self-medication. Go there if ill.
Evening: vintage lucite necklace, black vintage A line cocktail mini dress. Black patent ballerines. Random black leather shoulder bag from Century 21.
Morning: Brown leather flat riding boots. Blue New Look T shirt. Denim skirt. beige cashmere wide scarf, CK aviators (press gift from the presentation on Thursday)