re His word, David Baddiel, The Times, 28 July:


In his column on Howard Jacobson David Baddiel does not deign to give analysis, preferring to trumpet evaluation. We already knew that some people liked Kalooki Nights and some didn't; all Baddiel adds is he liked it. Does this betray overweening confidence in the weighty value of his name, as attached to his opinion? The morsel of evidence he does offer is praised for its 'quantum understanding [huh?] of human truth', is called beautiful, and no more. I don't think it deserves that. To say 'a man lives in' women's apprehension of himself is neither true nor beautiful, because 'lives in' is vague, half-achieved; it makes us think of 'apprehension' as bedsit or basement flat. 'ideation' is overfussily jargonlike, and 'happiness can barely contain itself' in failed revision of the cliché 'I could barely contain myself' loses sense: it's we who contain happiness, for happiness has no means to, indeed no waiting receptacle.

I haven't read Kalooki Nights. Baddiel's lazy piece doesn't persuade me to fork out for it. He exercises neither of the tools of the critic: comparison and analysis — the problem perhaps being that he sees himself as a 'man of letters'.

Yours faithfully,
Simon Cowell

Ps. Also in The Times, on June 30 this year, we find a little paragraph written by the paper's poetry editor, Rachel Campell-Johnston, about Daljit Nagra:

Multi-culturalism need not be worthy. Daljit Nagra makes a warm, witty, mischievous and sometimes painfully moving debut in Look We Have Coming to Dover!, which explores the experience of a second-generation Pakistani immigrant to Britain. A frank and original voice 'foots it featly as a Punjab in Punglish'. This is fresh and delightful.

Read that first sentence again. Isn't the assumption embedded there offensive? Why must the occasion of a second-generation Pakistani immigrant publishing a poetry book make an instance of 'multiculturalism'? Was it multicultural when Gitanjali was published here to celebratory reviews, and Yeats wrote the preface? If multiculuralism is '
the policy or process whereby the distinctive identities of the cultural groups within [...] a society are maintained or supported', Campbell-Johnston is patronising at best: Nagra was published for his talent, nothing less.

1 comment:

  1. Hi

    In your blog referencing Rachel Campbell Johnstone's reference to Daljit Nagra she makes an even bigger blunder by referring to Nagra as the son of Pakistani immigrants. He is in fact of Indian Sikh background, and not even being aware of this makes me suspect she has not read the book with any real insight, because the Sikh experience is referenced throughout, as is his Indian heritage in profiles and interviews. How excuciating, to have people like this with such superficial knowledge and ignorance and patronising references to how 'multiculturalism doesnt have to be worthy' not even know what they are talking about. But then, they're all the same, aren't they?