List: A Short Description of Cultural Appropriation for Non-Believers

1. Your new friends Bob and Rita come to lunch and you serve them idlis, like your grandmother used to make. 2. They love your south Indian cooking and ask for the recipe. 3. You never hear from Rita and Bob again. 4.

‘White Tears’ Is a New Novel About White People Stealing Black Music

White Tears, Hari Kunzru’s dark, phantasmagoric fifth novel, is about the cultural appropriation of black music.

Rajeev Balasubramanyam: George Michael and Me

I used to listen to Wham! in secret. It was 1984 and I was nine. My school was in a white and mostly working-class village in Lancashire. I knew only one other Wham! fan and, though it’s been thirty years since we last met, he was the first person I contacted after I heard George […]

Why I didn’t want to mark myself safe on Facebook during the Berlin attack

I live a mile away from Breitscheidplatz in Berlin, where 12 people were killed on Monday night after a lorry drove into a Christmas market. I could hear church bells ringing, odd at that time, and then my phone began to vibrate.

Peace Train in the Age of Donald Trump

Twelve days after the election of Donald Trump, I went to see Yusuf/ Cat Stevens in Soho, London. I suspect I was not alone in wondering what he would have to say about a President-elect who has called for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”

Touring Trump’s America on Colson Whitehead’s Underground Railroad

Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad won the National Book Award on Wednesday night. In his acceptance speech he told us, “We’re happy in here; outside is the blasted hellhole wasteland of Trumpland. Be kind to everybody. Make art and fight the power.” Not only was this apt for the evening, but it also describes the…

An American State of Grace: Darkness and Light in Leonard Cohen’s Political Imagination

I saw Leonard Cohen in September 2012 at the Waldbühne in Berlin, a Nazi-built amphitheater only two years younger than himself. He was 78 at the time, and he sang for three and a half hours, including, shortly before the end, “First we Take Manhattan,” at which the crowd devotedly shouted the next line, “Then we take Berlin!”

Trump and White Narcissism

While President elect Donald Trump was giving his victory speech, my attention fell a few inches to his right onto the small, lily-white boy in a dark suit and silver tie. He, the 10 year old Barron Trump, son of Donald and Melania, was fidgeting, swaying, and seemed awkward, self-conscious, as though he would rather be anywhere than on that stage in front of the entire world.

Funny Writers of Color Are Finally Being Taken Seriously

This year, literature’s biggest prizes for fiction, the Pulitzer and the Booker, went to novels by American writers of color : Viet Nguyen’s sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others.”

Opinion | The Nobel Committee got it wrong: Ngugi wa Thiong’o is the writer the world needs now

Rajeev Balasubramanyam is an award-winning novelist with a PhD in black and Asian British literature. His latest book is called “Starstruck.” He is on Twitter at @Rajeevbalasu. Every year I root for Ngugi wa Thiong’o to win the Nobel Prize for literature. The Kenyan writer has been a favorite to win for years.

“10 Alternative Rules for Writers” by Rajeev Balasubramanyam

1 Cultivate social anxiety and some sort of an addiction. This will prevent you from getting a job. #2 Scorn the work of other writers, preferably anonymously on the Internet. It makes you feel strong and powerful. #3 Do not waste time ‘improving self-esteem’. You are a bad person.

Rajeev Balasubramanyam: No thank you, Jeeves

A few years ago, NewSouth Books provoked controversy by issuing an edition of Huckleberry Finn with the N-word (which appears more than 200 times in the novel) altered to ‘slave’. Who would be bowdlerised next? Conrad? Kipling? No one seemed to think of P.G. Wodehouse and yet, rereading Thank You, Jeeves (1934) a few days […]

Donald Trump, “American Psycho” muse: How the “Art of the Deal” elitist became a poor man’s Patrick Bateman – and now he’s a real threat

Three-quarters of the way through Brett Easton Ellis’s “American Psycho,” a detective visits Patrick Bateman’s office on Wall Street to inquire about a missing banker. Bateman, who has already told us how he murdered this man, does his best to remain calm.

Hollywood and the ‘R’ Word

by Rajeev Balasubramanyam Chris Rock did it. He used the ‘R-word’. ‘Here’s the real question,’ he said on Oscar night. ‘The real question everybody wants to know…: Is Hollywood racist? Is Hollywood racist?’ He said it twice. And then he answered it. ‘You’re damn right Hollywood is racist.

Around the World

The modern prose novel emerged in the late 18th century as a vehicle for the articulation of national identity. In Europe, the novel’s popularitymarked the rapidly diminishing importance of the old transnational orders of religion, empire and aristocracy vis-à-vis the new dominance of the nation state.