Azhar Abidi, Writer
A book that means a lot to you and why?
The Adventures of Amir Hamza in Urdu. It reminds me of my happy childhood in Pakistan.
Your favourite genre?
Literary fiction in the European and Russian tradition.
Your favourite character? Why?
The Prince Don Fabrizio in Giuseppe di Lampedua’s Leopard. He is tragic but proud and he sees the world with the indifference of a god. He reminds me of a couple of relatives.
How many books do you own?
I haven’t counted them.
An underrated book? And why?
There are so many. Nothing in Sight by Jens Rehn, tells the story of two men, an American and a German, stranded on a rubber dinghy in the open sea during WWII. It has great humanity. Epitaph of a Small Winner by Machado de Assis is another underrated masterpiece. It’s a narrative by a witty and cynical ghost who believes that he got the better of life. Written in 1880, it remains as fresh and caustic today as it ever was. I am sure that a lot of great books are written in native languages but they remain underrated and unknown because they are not in English.
An overrated book? And why?
Most fiction these days is overrated.
The book you bought last?
The Labyrinth of Solitude by Octavio Paz.
Last book read?
A Good Place to Die by John Buchan.
A book you wish you had written? And why?
Hadji Murad by Leo Tolstoy. I wanted that plot for my next novel.
Jai Arjun Singh