The wind blows hard, the night is dark, the stormy waves are rising
The anchor’s chain is broken, and the captain is asleep
British politics? Trump? Communal violence? Actually it’s the poet Ghalib in the early 19th century, commenting on the world around him Delhi – or perhaps on life in general; and in the first chapter of my novel the words lodge in the mind of Tessa as she faces a very personal crisis. … Read more
Reflections on being voted out of Europe, on being an immigrant, and on why we campaign.
Walking in early morning light … Facing up to the fact that we lost – that just over half the voters in Britain are happy with the referendum result that will take us out of the European Union.… Read more
Zafar Anjum, editor of the on-line journal, Kitaab, asked if he could interview me about how I got to work with Ralph Russell, from whom I learnt Urdu. Kitaab means ‘book’ in Urdu and the journal is a great source of information and comment about writers and literature across Asia.… Read more
Five weeks ago I was in Lahore, Pakistan, for a literary festival, along with a hundred thousand other people. Now, when we remember it, it will always be in the shadow of what came after. On Easter Sunday, with families out for a day in a park, a massive bomb exploded.… Read more
If you haven’t yet read Uncertain Light, I won’t be giving anything away by telling you that the story was sparked off by a real incident: in December 1996, twenty-three people in a UN peace negotiating team were taken hostage in Tajikstan. By a few weeks later only twenty-one had been released.… Read more
1. Speaking Tigers?
I am about to land in Delhi for the launch of the South Asia edition of my novel, Uncertain Light. I’m part of a still-rare breed – being published by a go-ahead new independent, Speaking Tiger Books. Ravi Singh, the co-founder, said, ‘We’ll publish 35 books this year, 50 in 2016 and grow to about 80 by our third year.… Read more
A chance encounter in a bookshop in Old Delhi … Books overflowing everywhere … Tessa, a young traveller with a backpack …That’s where the central story of Uncertain Light began.
Preparing to go to India, I’m thinking back to my own first journey there – also solo with a backpack, but I wasn’t a nineteen-year old on a gap year, I was thirty-seven.… Read more
In Penzance to talk at the Literary Festival, I wake before dawn and walk along the sea-front. Last night a woman in the audience listened to me talk about the hostage-taking with which Uncertain Light begins, and then told us quietly that her son had been a UN peacekeeper and had been taken hostage.… Read more
I’m on the Scilly Isles once again, the setting of my last novel, Somewhere More Simple. Walking round a low headland I am confronted by boulders sculpted by wind and waves into strange forms. I think of Uncertain Light, of Rahul Khan being moved by strange markings on boulders in a valley high in the mountains.… Read more
Yet again, more tragic deaths of aid workers. On the night of 2nd June, in Balkh province in northern Afghanistan, nine Afghans were attacked as they slept, and murdered by an unknown armed group. They were working for People in Need, which has been in the area for more than 10 years, delivering health, education and agriculture support in this starkly beautiful but implacably dry area.… Read more