Books For You | Writing Badly Is Easy, says Amitava Kumar

Editor | Non-fiction

When Lord Macaulay introduced English as the instrument of education in India, he also bequeathed to us a legacy of language-use that is often stiff and bureaucratic. This awkwardness plagues academic, journalistic, legal, even creative writing in India.

You fail as a writer if your writing is not concrete, if it is vague and abstract, and your reader is unable to see what you mean. Writing Badly is Easy (Published by Aleph, Pages 320, Price Rs 699) is a style guide for those who want to write well. It presents advice given by award-winning creative writers—including Jonathan Franzen, Jennifer Egan, Suketu Mehta, Marilynne Robinson, George Saunders and Colson Whitehead—and noted thinkers like Alain de Botton, Andrew Ross, Anna Tsing, Kathleen Stewart and Rob Nixon, as well as numerous others. Amitava Kumar’s own essays on writing, including his collaboration with Teju Cole, demonstrate the importance of blurring the line between critical and creative writing. A manifesto for writing that is exuberant, imaginative and playful, Writing Badly is Easy will change the way you think about reading and writing, and reveal the pleasures to be had in the inventive use of language.

About the author

Amitava Kumar is the author of several books, including A Matter of Rats: A Short Biography of Patna and The Lovers: A Novel, both published by Aleph. His first novel, Home Products (2007), was shortlisted for the Crossword Prize, and his non-fiction report, A Foreigner Carrying in the Crook of His Arm a Tiny Bomb (2010), which the New York Times described as a ‘perceptive and soulful…meditation on the global war on terror and its cultural and human repercussions’, was given the Page Turner Award. Kumar’s writing has appeared in the New Yorker, The Guardian, New York Times, Caravan, Harper’s and Vanity Fair. His essay ‘Pyre’, first published in Granta, was selected by Jonathan Franzen for Best American Essays 2016. He was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2016. Kumar is Professor of English at Vassar College.

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