Thursday, 31 December 2009

My review of 2009

So here it comes, the end of another year and, according to popular myth, also of another decade (though strictly speaking for that we shall have to wait another 12 months). Even so, the past nine years have been most eventful, dominated by 9/11 of course - we are already hearing that mantra repeatedly. But let me begin, as usual, with a list of books that I have read during the year.

1) "Dreams from my Father" by Barack Obama - ISBN 978 1 84767 094 6 - UK p/b Canongate (2007) - 442 pages

To think now that I began the year with this book! I did however mention that I was going to do so in my review of 2008. It is of course a universal best-seller and the story of his life is too well-known to warrant even a brief summary here. I have also done a longish draft review of the book, which I hope to complete and post separately in 2010. Suffice it to say here that `Dreams` made an inviting bed-time read. I have just looked at some bits in the book that I had made a note of at the time. In one, at p 47, he describes the tension and dynamics of his mother`s and step-father Lolo`s relationship against the background of life in Indonesia and how for him she resolved the ambivalence of "which side of the divide she wanted her child to be on" by deciding that "I was an American ... and my true life lay elsewhere". That was to be reinforced much later, as a mature adult, when he visited Kenya for the first time and touched base with his roots there having experienced, during the passage through his late teens into manhood, the angst of his American-ness laid bare and having "grown tired of trying to untangle a mess that was not of my own making" (at p 93), on account of being a member of a "minority assimilated into the dominant culture" and further having "to put up with" "indignities" of the kind inflicted daily on "an ordinary nigger" (at p 100)!

2) "Netherland" by Joseph O`Neil - ISBN 978-0-00-727570-0 - UK p/b Harper Perennial (2009) - 247 pages

As it happened, I was reading this simultaneously with `Dreams`, and little did I know then that it had also featured in BO`s own leisure-time reading! I was simply captivated by the narrative and the setting and style of the book. Both the books made one snuggle up to bed on cold nights of the winter. The cricketing environment of the new English-speaking migrant communities, rooted in old British Empire traditions, against the background of New York`s multi-cultural metropolis was conveyed so vividly as to infect the reader with a voyeuristic, tingling excitement. So these two books together made a good start for the year.

3) "The Suspicions of Mr Whicher Or The Murder at Road Hill House" by Kate Summerscale - ISBN 978 0 7475 9648 6 - UK p/b Bloomsbury 2009 - 372 pages incl index

As if the first two books weren`t exciting enough, I chose this, together with the next one, for our trip to South East Asia from March into April. The mid-19th century setting of `Suspicions` has echoes of Conan Doyle, except that this was a real-life case - a fictionalised step-by-step account of an investigation into a gruesome killing of a child in rural England, complete with diagrams and pictures, extensive chapter notes and a comprehensive bibliography of source material in the manner of an academic study or a legal report. The book, as the blurb puts it, bears "all the hallmarks of a classic, gripping murder mystery" that has "(a) body, a detective, a country house steeped in secrets and a whole family of suspects .... the original Victorian whodunnit"! It reminded me of `Arthur and George` by Julian Barnes (listed in my review of 2006) about the miscarriage of justice case of George Edalji, the young British-born lawyer son of a Parsi parson and his English wife, wrongly convicted of a series of heinous attacks on horses at the height of the Victorian era. So it made a perfect holiday read, as did the next one, in warm and exotic surroundings!

4) "The Beach" by Alex Garland - ISBN 978-0-141-03509-3 - UK Penguin p/b 1997 - reissued 2007 - 439 pages

Reading this on location, as it were, merely enhanced its inherent magic; you felt an immediacy, an overwhelming sense of being drawn into the world of its youthful characters. In Bangkok, we were walking the very streets and traversing the same landscape that formed the backdrop of the narrative. The imagined island at the centre of the story, the Thai paradise, lay beyond our physical grasp but was brought alive in the book. The drug scene and sexual freedom of the Vietnam era - as well as its ugliness in terms of physical devastation and moral despair - which could so easily translate into our present day war on terror and its aftermath - were a retreat into a poetic dreamland for the young men and women who wanted to escape from the real world. Their idyllic adventure was to shatter, but the long lead up to the denouement is so beautifully captured that when the end comes one is left strangely both bereft and bolstered by the experience. I had not seen the very successful movie of the book before, but later when I did I felt just as spiritually and vicariously transported as after reading the book.

5) "The Audacity of Hope" by Barack Obama - ISBN 978 1 84767 083 0 - 2006 - UK p/b Canongate Books 2007 - 375 pages

This was necessary, after `Dreams`, to understand where BO was coming from in his politics. We also learn more about his personal history and journey into prominence, with further snippets of his relationship with his father and the senior Obama`s family.

6) "His Illegal Self" by Peter Carey - ISBN 978-0-571-23154-6 - Faber p/b - 2008 - 272 pp - a 2 star out of xxxxx!

7) "The Accidental" by Ali Smith - ISBN 978-0141-03501-7 - Penguin p/b - 2005 - 306 pp - ditto

8) "The Secret River" by Kate Grenville - ISBN 978 1 84195 828 6 - UK p/b Canongate Books 2006 - 349 pp

After the two earlier rather non-descript books (6) and (7), this was a welcome and most fascinating read; almost half of the book is devoted to the origins and background of the convict family who are transported to Australia at the beginning of the 19th century. Their life on the River Thames is so graphically described that even two centuries on, as Londoners, we can relate to their hardships and helplessness, their aspirations and achievements in the face of numerous obstacles in the pre-Dickensian mode. But the `secret river` of the title is not the Thames but rather the raw, mysterious and treacherous backwater in an unexplored and seemingly uninhabited corner of Queensland which they make their home after a series of struggles and confrontations with both nature and the natives. The most telling part of the narrative is how they tame the land but not the aborigines whom they encounter, and wantonly kill, but with whom they fail to establish any line of communication for want of linguistic skills or endeavours. They settled there but their heart remained rooted back home - they were really displaced people. There was some feeling of guilt and shame over the merciless slaughter of the natives - who became victims of history - but this isn`t explored in depth in the book itself. Towards the end, the hero reflects on his life thus: "He did not spell out to (his wife) what they both knew: that they were never going to return to that Home. Too many of the important parts of their lives had happened here. Their children, for a start. For them, Home was nothing but a story. If they were to go to London they would be outsiders, with their sunburnt skin and their colonial ways". That is the lament and the dilemma of all first-generation migrants all across the globe!

9) "Somewhere Towards The End" by Diana Athill - ISBN 978-1-84708-069-1 - Granta p/b 2008 - 182 pp - a biographical work by a well-established literary agent, born in 1917, who has this year featured a lot in media coverage and interviews and among whose distinguished circle of client writers was VS Naipaul for many years.

10) "The Road Home" by Rose Tremain - ISBN 9780099478461 - Vintage p/b - 2007- 365 pp - about the new Eastern European migrants in 21st century Britain, whose tragectory, trials, tribulations and triumphs are familiar to 21st century Londoners!

11) "The 19th Wife" by David Ebershoff - A Black Swan Book 9780552774987 - 2008 - 606 pp - a long-winded story about the Mormons in Utah, the unique feature of the book being that it is about parallel lives of two sets of characters separated by a century, partly based on fact and partly fictional.

12) "The Believers" by Zoe Heller - BCA h/b - CN158348 - 306 pp - beginning with a prologue date-marked London 1962 (which immediately attracted me, as it was bound to evoke my own memories of the period and place) and spanning the next four decades to New York 2002, charting the journey of a somewhat diffident and deprived working class Jewish woman who was transformed into a loud-mouthed, assertive, unpleasant middle-aged New York battleaxe through a chance marriage to an American, with all kinds of consequential sidelines and sequels.

13) "Nothing To Be Frightened Of" by Julian Barnes - ISBN 9780099523741 - Vintage p/b - 2008 - 250 pp - about dying and families - part-(auto)biography, part-philosophy - frank, factual and forlorn.

14) "The Law And The Lawyers" by M K Gandhi - ed by S B Kher - Ahmedabad - ISBN 81-7229-051-9 - 1962 - 300 pp - a miscellany of Gandhi`s writings on the legal theme, including some ancedotal sketches about his own flowering as a lawyer in early life.

15) "A Most Wanted Man" by John le Carre - ISBN 978 0 340 977708 8 - Hodder&S p/b - 2008 - 418 pp - a pleasurable holiday read on the ever popular and contemporary theme of spies and secret service officianados trumpeting everything in the name of national security.

16) "The Appeal" by John Gresham - 2008 - BCA h/b CN 155302 - 358 pp - another gripping holiday read by an accomplished veteran of legal fiction - here we learn about the politics of the American judicial and particularly appeals system which I found quite instructive.

17) "The Assassin`s Song" by M G Vassanji - ISBN 978 1 84767 283 4 - Canongate p/b - 2007- 314 pp

For East African Asian (EAA) diasporans, MGV represents the personification of their history. As a pioneering writer who had no tradition to drawn from, he has virtually single-handedly created a body of literature about EAAs that can rightly be compared, as it often is, to the works of Chinua Achebe, Salman Rushdie, V S Naipaul and Kiran Desai, whatever the differences in their style, approach and content. For me, he is a literary hero par excellence. His own website at contains a lot of useful information both about his background and his writings. "The Gunny Sack", "The Book of Secrets" and "The In-Between World of Vikram Lall", were about EAAs as they evolved through a century and a half of their settlement in Eastern Africa. `Assassins` is however set in India and delineates the pre-history of EAAs in terms of their ancestry and their re-emergence as post-colonial migrants to the West. But more importantly, it is about the antecedents of a unique community of Gujarati Shia Muslims, namely the Ismaili Khojas (whose spiritual head is the Aga Khan) with an insight into their origins and evolution right through to the partition and independence of India and as they wrestle with the inner conflicts giving rise to doubt and apprehension about the community`s fate following the Gujarat riots of 2002. In his own notes about the book, he describes `Assassins` as the story of the descendants of the 13th century sufi who had settled in Gujarat as a refugee, "narrated by the heir to (his) shrine ... (which) is neither Hindu nor Muslim (such places exist) ... who grows up in a rapidly changing India post independence... and the novel is in a sense about the burden of tradition". It is also about the borders of tradition, identity and belonging, as "the story (unfolds) in the aftermath of the bloody communal violence of 2002, in which the shrine was destroyed". As for the narrator`s self-liberation from an oppressive familial expectation, first as a foreign student and then as a fully-fledged migrant in America, there can be no doubt that here the author draws on his own personal journey to a new life in Canada over the same time period, which is also a reflection of the Ismaili community`s uprootment (but largely from Africa) and re-settlement in North America, As far as the depiction of campus life of a newly arrived Indian student at Harvard in the early 1970s is concerned, there are strong resonances with Anita Desai`s `Fasting, Feasting`, with our hero grappling with a sexual awakening as well as Ivy League social and academic complexities. But is there, in his return to India to claim or come to terms with his inheritance, an element of ambivalence? While at one level we see it as a positive ending, as an act of faith and commitment, at another there is the nagging and implicit doubt and uncertainty about the future - that is the essential conundrum of post-Godhra Gujarat. MGV`s search for the material for the book is explained in a sequel, `A Place Within: Rediscovering India`, which is on the top of my wish reading list for 2010.

18) "The Other" by David Guterson - ISBN 978 0 7475 9620 2 - Bloomsbury p/b - 2008 - 256 pp

Although a bit rambling, I found it improved half-way down, but then from the author of `Snow Falling on Cedars` I was not expecting to be disappointed. His physical settings, in Washington state, are always inviting especially, as here, when mixed with a touch of adventure and mystery. However it lacks the evocative sharpness of his earlier works, but made a good read.

19) "Sea of Poppies" by Amitav Ghosh - ISBN 978-0-7195-6897-8 - John Murray p/b (2009) - 2008 - 530 pp

I had hesitated before starting this long book, and even regretted doing so during the first 100 pages or so, despite all the plaudits heaped upon it. It took a long while to relate to the story-line and the characters; their speech in diverse tongues is a linguistic hotchpotch - an amalgam of English, Hindi, Urdu, Malay etc - that is difficult to read and understand. But once you get into the plot, it becomes possible to identify who is what and where they are coming from, both literally and metaphorically, and eventually where they are heading. So this is really one of those scenarios where a motley collection of people (a la William Golding`s `Rites of Passage`, but in this case, convicts and indentured labourers and their minders) go through a long gestation of dislocation from their roots, to be shepherded, willy-nilly, into a relentless rite of passage to pastures anew, which happens to be Mauritius, across the `black water`- though we do not see the destination reached! The action takes place during the pre-Victorian British rule under the East India Company. The early relationship between the Europeans and Indians and the background of the `poppies` phenomenon of the title are described in exquisite detail, with a historical flair, based on the author`s meticulous reseach that is evident from the extensive bibliography and references incorporated as endpieces - an unusual feature in a work of fiction that also appears in Salman Rushdie`s `Enchantress of Florence`. He excels in the minutiae of maritime terminology and shipcraft, and in his running account of the river voyage, all of which provide a fascinating insight into the hazards of navigation in the days before steam power.

20) "The New Asian Hemisphere - the irresistible shift of global power to the East" by Kishore Mahbubani, NY, - 314 pp

This was the publication that accompanied his brilliant one hour conversation piece captured on the UCLA site in 2008, before Obama`s successful entry into the race for the American presidency, wherein he expounded his critique of Western history, philosphy and politics impacting the post-9/11 policies of the US and EU. That was a most aritculate and riveting presentation; the book reinforces his message impressively, as evidenced in the extracts from the warm reviews of such figures as Lawrence H Summers, Amartya Sen, Jagdish Bhagwati and Zbigniew Brzezinski on the back cover. As the blurb states "For two centuries, the Asians - from Tehran to Tokyo, from Mumbai to Shanghai - have been bystanders in world history, reacting defenselessly to the surges of Westernn commerce, thought and power. That era is over. Asia is returning to the center stage it occupied for eighteen centuries before the rise of the West" - that is a fair summary of the author`s main thrust. He explores the line of progress from virtual non-entities to global powerpoints of the emerging Asian giants in a most disarming and discerning fashion, with a powerful intellect and deep understanding of the dynamics of global politics.

21) "The Tenderness of Wolves" by Steff Penney - ISBN 1 884724 067 4 & 13 978 1 84724 067 5 - a UK Quercus p/b - 2006 - 445 pp

I am so glad to be ending the year with this superb novel of extraordinary brilliance, a wholly deserving winner of the 2006 Costa First Novel Award, set in the Canadian wilderness of 1867. It is a work of high imagination. Every page bristles with minute details of the period and the pioneering atmosphere but, above all, we get an acute sense of the interaction between the migrant and the native (on a different plane from that described in `The Secret River`) in a nation that was still going through the process of transformation into a settler state, with its developing social consciousness and institutions of government. The wintry terrain of the harsh and sparsely populated hinterland naturally dominates the narrative as the main characters struggle with the elements on their trail across the country. We also observe, from the author`s perspective, the subtleties of behaviour and degrees of integration within the growing immigrant community. Add to that the mystery at the centre of the story and the thrill of the chase and we have all the ingredients of a tale of crime and adversity, even if the ending is a bit ambiguous!


From the above list, the most outstanding were `Dreams from my Father`, `Netherland`, `Suspicions of Mr Whicher`, `The Beach`, `The Secret River`, `The Assassin`s Song`, `Sea of Poppies` and `The Tenderness of Wolves`, in no particular order.

As in the past, there are always books that remain unfinished. In my review for 2008, I had mentioned `Blinding Light` by Paul Theroux. Well, I have read some more of it and hopefully will complete the job in 2010. Another that looked promising but did not sustain the same level of interest was "The Divide" by Nicholas Evans, which again remains on my bedside table. Among the books awaiting to be read are a Stella Rimington and an Anita Shreve, but these are bound to be overtaken by `A Case of Exploding Mangoes`, which has received much praise. In sum total however the count for this year is 21 to last year`s 15!

In addition, the London Review of Books (LRB) every fortnight continues to be an essential part of my bedtime reading.

Films, Concerts, Theatre
Again, the year began well, with `Australia`, `Slumdog Millionnaire`, `The Reader` and `Frost / Nixon` - all within a few days of each other in January! I have reviewed `Slumdog` and `Frost / N` separately. `Australia` had more of a populist box-office appeal but did not really either warrant or stand up to a serious critical assessment in terms of historical accuracy or import. Among the other films seen during the year, the most notable ones were `Revolutionary Road`, `Doubt`, `Victoria`, and of course Pedro Almodovar`s`Broken Embraces`, with an enchanting and enigmatic Penelope Cruz stealing the limelight. Later, during the London Film Festival, I also saw `Well Done Abba` (also reviewed separately), as well as a couple of others which in an earlier era might have been described as `avant garde` but which we would now regard as the norm in our 21st century post-modern culture. On further reflection, I have given star x ratings for the films, from 1 to 5, the most outstanding ones getting 5+ and the others in reverse order.

Then there was the National Theatre production of Hanif Kureishi`s `The Black Album` directed by Jatinder Verma and the Cape Town Opera`s production of `Porgy and Bess` at the Royal Festival Hall (RFH), as well as a couple of Indian and Western classical performances. And as part of the onoing `Bernstein` project at the RFH, celebrating the works of Leonard Bernstein, there was the "Encounter at the Berlin Wall" on 30 November, the showing of the film version of his historic performance of Beethoven`s 9th Symphony after the Berlin Wall came down in 1989. It made fascinating viewing, with close-ups of Bernstein as well as members of the Orchestra, and one was able to follow the nuances and rhythm of the music intently.

The most enjoyable event was the Amit Chaudhury evening at the Festival Hall, in the intimate surroudings of the Function Room, where he gave an impressive presentation of his versatile talents as a performer of jazz, Indian classical and `fusion`music, and as a literary critic.

See the Appendix for the full list of films etc.

Lectures and talks
Once again I was able to attend a fair number of talks and meetings at various London venues. The ones that especially stand out were the RSA Lunchtime panel discussion on `Israel and Palestine` on 8 January with Jonathan Friedland in the chair, `The Obama Future, in the light of the past`, also an RSA talk by David Reynolds with Bonnie Greer in the chair, the JUSTICE launch of the Eminent Jurists` Panel on Counter-Terrorism on 17 February with Helena Kennedy in the chair, Kennan Malik on The Rushdie Affair and its legacy` at the RSA on 19 March, Mahmood Mamdani on `Saviours and Survivors` at the ICA on 1 June, Amartya Sen in conversation with Jon Snow in the Purcell Room at the South Bank on 13 July. But there were some disappointments too. Among these were `The Many Avatars of the Indian Creative Mind` at the RSA on 20 April, the panel and music rendering of "Barack Obama: 100 Days" in the Purcell Room on 30 April, Arundhati Roy`s conversation with Shami Chakrabarti at South Bank`s Queen Elizabeth Hall on 2 July and "Screens with Channel 4 - The Family: How has the portrayal of South Asians in the media changed in recent years?" at the RSA on 17 November. On the other hand, the twin `Wasafiri` programmes on 31 October in the Purcell Room (reviewed separately) were the most uplifting and satisfying of the whole year.

I thought the Wasafiri event was the best, followed closely by Amartya Sen, Mahmood Mamdani and Kennan Malik.

The full list is given in the Appendix below my signature.

Foreign travel

We did two major trips: the first was to South East Asia - February into March - whose main focus was a train journey from Chiang Mai in Thailand to Singapore, via Malaysia. That was a wonderful trip, as was our South American Adventure in Sept / October (separately reviewed).


As always, reviewing the past year always involves reliving and reflecting upon it in headline terms. Some of the things covered had faded in memory until remembered for this exercise, others were still fresh and could be recalled in detail. That the year began with those memorable films and books is still a marvel. The trip to South East Asia was great, as was the next one to South America, but both these have now receded into the background. Even so, some bits still remain within mental reach.

How else was time spent? Engaging in interactive discourse on different internet forums daily - always a time-consuming activity - plus continuing research and writing.

This, then, this has been a good year on all these fronts. It may appear as if it has been rather hectic, but in general things are well spaced out. Even so, there is never a dull or idle moment and to that extent there has to be some slowing down. But I have now committed myself to a major project which involves a fair amount of research (currently in progress) and then writing a paper for presentation at the next GSA Conference in April on a very interesting subject which I do not want to reveal here just now. I will also be writing regularly for the `AwaaZ` magazine of Nairobi and will continue to be a member of the Editorial Board of the Journal of Immigration Asylum and Nationality Law (IANL). I also propose to retrieve selected bits of my writing from elsewhere and post them on this site. So 2010 will be just as challenging! How well all this will turn out remains to be seen.

With season`s compliments and best wishes to all for a Happy New Year. Gosh, what a change it will be to refer to 2010 as twenty-ten, rather than the longish two thousand and ten!



2009 Diary - Films, Plays, Concerts etc

Sun 04 Jan - Odeon KT1 - "Australia" (Nicole Kidman etc) - x x x x

Tue 06 Jan - Odeon KT1 - "Slumdog Millionaire" (Danny Boyle`s) - x x x x x++

Sun 11 Jan - Odeon KT1 - "The Reader" (Kate Winslet) - x x x x x

Sat 24 Jan - Odeon KT1 - "Frost / Nixon" (Michael Sheen) - x x x x x+

Thu 29 Jan - RFH - Philharmonia Orc Concert : Berlioz (Overture Op 21); Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto in D & his 5th Symphony in E m - x x x x

Sat 07 Feb - Odeon KT1 - "Revolutionary Road" (Kate Winslet, LeonardodiCaprio) - x x x x x
Mon 30 Mar - ICA - "Wonderful Town" (Thailand, 2008, Dir Aditya Assarat) - x x x x

Sun 05 Apr - QEH - "Nina Virdee, Urban Love and Tablature" - `fusion` music (Hari Kumar, elec gutr, Kuljit Bhambra, leader) - x x x x x

Sat 18 Apr - RFH - Clore Ballroom Videoscreen - Simone Bolivar Youth Orchestra (incl Stravinsky`s Rite of Spring) - Conductor: Gustavo Dudamel - x x x x x

Sun 26 Apr - Odeon KT1 - "State of Play" (Russel Crowe, Ben Affleck) - x x x

Thu 07 May - RFH - Philha Orchestra - Cond: Jjoji Hattori (S Chang: Violin - Grieg Peer Gynt, Bruch Violin Concerto No.1, Beethoven 7 Symphony) - x x x x

Thu 26 Jun - ICA - Film: Soi Cowboy (Dir: Thomas Clay, UK/Thailand, sub-titles) - x x x x

Sat 27 Jun - Purcell Rm - "Swati Natekar: Destiny Chakra" by the Asian Music Circuit - x x

Tue 30 Jun - Odeon KT1 - "Surveillance` - rubbish film - 00000

Thu 16 Jul - NT Cottesloe - `The Black Album` = Jatinder Verma / Hanif Kureishi - x x x x x

Sun 23 Aug - Odeon KT1 = "The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3" - x x x x

Thu 27 Aug - Epsom P/h - "Doubt" (Meryl Streep, Phillip Hoffman) -x x x x

Mon 31 Aug - Epsom P/h - "Young Victoria" - Emily Blunt etc - x x x x

Tue 01 Sep - Odeon KT1 - "Broken Embraces" - Dir Pedro Almodovar - Penel Cruz - x x x x x

Mon 19 Oct - LFF NFT2 - "The Exploding Girl" - Dir Bradly Russ Gray - x x x

Tue 20 Oct - LFF NFT1 - "Well Done Abba" - Shyam Benegal film - x x x x x+

Mon 26 Oct - LFF NFT3 - "45365" - study of ordinary life in small-town USA - x x x

Tue 27 Oct - RFH - "Porgy and Bess" (Cape Town Opera production) - x x x

Sun 29 Nov - Kensington Town Hall - Strings of Freedom - Mohan Veena Concert by Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt - NoteAsia Foundation - x x x x

Mon 30 Nov - Purcell Room - Encounter at the Berlin Wall - Bernstein Project - x x x x x
2009 Diary - Lectures, Conferences, Meetings etc
Thu 08 Jan - R S A - Lunchtime "Israel and Palestine: strategies for peace - Jonathan Friedland (Ch), Freedman, Kamms, Bari Atwan, Martin Linton MP

Tue 13 Jan - Tate Modern - `Rothco - The Late Series` - Exhibition (see LRB, 23.10.08, "At Tate Modern" by Peter Campbell)

Wed 28 Jan - R S A - 6 pm : David Reynolds (author of `The Empire of Liberty`) "The Obama Future, in the light of the past" - Chair: Bonnie Greer

Tue 17 Feb - JUSTICE launch of Eminent Jurists` Panel on Counter-Terrorism (Helen Kennedy QC, C, Mary Robinson, Arthur Chaskalson, Jina Hilani)

Thu 19 Mar - R S A - 1-2 pm - Kenan Malik: `The Rushdie Affair and Its Legacy` - Chair: Lisa Appignanesi, President of English PEN

Mon 24 Mar - South Bank: Royal Festival Hall - 7.45 pm - Function Room - Amit Chaudhury - Music and Literature

Thu 02 Apr - R S A - 1-2 pm - Ian Bremmer "The Fat Tail" - Ch: Luke Johnson

Mon 20 Apr - R S A - 6.45pm - `The Many Avatars of the Indian Creative Mind` (Amartya Sen, V Sheth, N M Nilekani, R Guha - Chair: D Davidar)

Thu 30 Apr - South Bank: Purcell Room - `Barack Obama: 100 Days` - Panel & Music (Zia Sardar, Shirley Thompson, Amina Adewusi, Lionel Shriver)

Wed 13 May - LSE - 2 pm - Conference: Challenging the Parallel Lives` Myth: Race, Sociology, Statistics and Politics

Thu 21 May - RSA - `Welfare 2020` - Rt Hon James Purnell, SoS Works & Pensions

Mon 01 Jun - ICA - Talk: Dr Mahmood Mamdani "Saviours and Survivors" - 7 pm

Thu 04 Jun - RSA - 1-2pm "God, Globalization and the End of the War on Terror" by Reza Aslan

Wed 17 Jun - RSA - 1-2pm "Electoral Reform: Right Question? Right
Answer?" Carswell, Huhne, MacShane MPs, J Keane - Ch: Steve Richards, The Indie)

Thu 02 Jul - South Bank: Queen Elizabeth Hall - 7.30 pm - Arundhati Roy x Shami Chakrabarti

Tue 07 Jul - House of Commons, C`tee Rm 13 - Migration Parliamentary Group - Keith Best, Immigration Advisory Group (Chairing)

Thu 09 Jul - House of Commons, C`tee Rm 14 - ILPA Silver Anniversary - Fiona Mactaggart MP

Mon 13 Jul - South Bank: Purcell Room - Amartya Sen x Jon Snow "The Idea of Justice"

Thu 21 Jul - RSA - 1pm - "The Crisis of Islamic Civilisation" - Ali A. Allawi

Thu 09 Sep - RSA - 1pm - "Freedom for Sale: How we made money and lost our liberty" - John Kampfner (Chair: David Goodhart)

Wed 14 Oct - Inner Temple - Gandhi Foundation Annual Lecture - Mr Justice Aftab Alam, Indian Supreme Court Judge: `Upholding Secularism`

Sat 31 Oct - South Bank: Purcell Room - `Wasafiri` events (1) Kenynote: Ngugi w Thiongo (2) Anita and Kiran Desai in conversation

Thu 05 Nov - RSA - 1 pm - "The Fall of the Berlin Wall - 20 Years On" - Mary Elise Sarotte with Peter Millar & Thomas Keilinger (Ch: James Robbins)

Thu 12 Nov - RSA - 1 pm - "Banking in the Wake of the Crisis - how will confidence be restored?" - John Kay, Heather McGregor (Ch: Edmond Conway)

Tue 17 Nov - RSA - 6.30 pm "Screens with Channel 4 - The Family: How has the portrayal of South Asians in the media changed in recent years?"

Thu 25 Nov - Royal College of Surgeons - Gresham College Lecture by Sir Richard Dearlove, former head of MI6

Thu 10 Dec - RSA - 1 pm - "Ben Schott Re(views) the Year"