Some things I've been reading recently:
"Do [Indian] anglophones paddle in the shallows" by Mukul Kesavan, who is in my opinion among the sharpest thinkers and almost certainly the best prose stylist among columnists in the English-language press in India, and whose piece closes with a line worthy of a great short story. My friend the writer Amitava Kumar, who has on occasion left comments of great erudition on The Middle Stage (such as here), and whose book A Foreigner Carrying In The Crook Of His Arm A Tiny Bomb will be out shortly, has a response to Kesavan here. A reverse angle on Kesavan's argument is provided by Aakar Patel's recent essay "Try and say this in Hindi -- bet you can't".
"Adventures in editing: Ted Solotaroff's Commentary Days", a very long and entertaining piece by the late Ted Solotaroff on his years as an editor at Commentary magazine, which is, among other things, about learning the art of editing from other highly skilled exponents ("Well, what she proceeded to do was a revelation. What I had thought was a solid review turned out to have as much fat as a sixteen-ounce blue-plate special. My resentment at being told I was ponderous turned into gratitude once I began to see with her eye and fall into step with her pace. 'Why the double adjectives here? Give me a good precise one.' My overzealous development of a point--example, comment, further example, more comment, final example -- turned into an incisive statement and the best example, and moved on. She showed me how removing a transitional or topic sentence from the head of a paragraph could energize the line of discussion and more involve the reader"). Part 2 of the piece is here: "Further adventures in editing".
And lest we forget that this is an Indian blog, and one that wants to know and to circulate what is happening at home as well as away, here is a beautifully tossed-off little memoir -- one wishes it were longer-- by Rukun Advani called "Academics among writers", about the experience of editing an entire generation of Indian writers -- sociologists, economists, political theorists -- closely linked with academic activity yet also interested in producing polished writing ("When I joined publishing as an editor it was with the expectation that my job would involve reading wonderful new book-manuscripts all day long. At the end of each week I'd tell my boss which the well-written scripts were, and he'd give me the go-ahead to publish those. The bad ones we'd save for a bonfire and watch gleefully as rotten prose met its fate, becoming even more like the dust it already was.")
If you give these essays the time they deserve, you could do worse than spend another hour reading this recent symposium of four good American editors at publishing houses, which offers many insights into the contemporary world of publishing: agents, advances, the rigours of editing, publicity, the corporatization of publishing, the impact of new technologies, why books are published first as hardcovers, and so on.
And here are two marvellous interviews at the ReadySteadyBook website with the poet and translator Michael Hoffmann and the translator Charlotte Mandell. I was particularly struck by Mandell's counterintuitive revelation that she never reads a book all the way through before beginning a translation ("I feel I’ve never really 'read' a work until I’ve translated it. I also make it a rule never to read too far ahead in the book I’m translating – that way everything is fresh and new, and I can’t form any preconceived notions about what will come next. I figure the author never had the luxury of reading his book beforehand, so why should I?"). Mandell also has some interesting things to say about her translation of Jonathan Littell's The Kindly Ones here.
Lastly, I leave you with Adam Kirsch's splendid "In The Word-Hoard", an essay on Dennis O'Driscoll's book-length interview with Seamus Heaney, Stepping Stones. And if all this is too literary for you, I can see your point, and so here is a really good essay by Jonathan Wilson on football: "Why is full-back the most important position on the pitch?"