About two years ago, Salman Rushdie and J.K. Rowling, both creators of magical worlds yet very different as writers and thinkers, put their signatures on a letter, along with about 148 others, criticising cancel culture. Apart from being writers and defenders of free speech, both had experienced first-hand the persistence with which people hate.
For more than 30 years, Rushdie has lived with a fatwa, and last month, a young man who was not even born when The Satanic Verses was first published, stabbed him. Rowling, ever since she expressed transphobic opinions, has received death threats and abuse, and somehow, there seems to be an idea that she should get used to it since her opinions are abhorrent. “The democratic inclusion we want can be achieved only if we speak out against the intolerant climate that has set in on all sides,” said the letter they signed. It’s an idea that pervades quite a few pieces in this issue—from our review of Rowling’s latest, The Ink Black Heart, to a contemplation of Rushdie’s work decades after it was first published and in light of the attack, to a piece on Pa. Ranjith’s new film, Natchathiram Nagargiradhu, which debates caste, religion, class and gender.
Another big story in this issue is about the latest sport to get a league of its own—kho kho. We’re all likely to have played the game as children, running and skidding in the mud, but the league, which concluded its inaugural season last weekend, gave the sport and its players the mainstream recognition it deserves.
Far from the rough and tumble of kho kho is our story on the descendants of the rulers of India’s erstwhile princely states, who are dipping into their archives for family recipes to share with the world. In an effort to preserve as well as have their culinary history incorporated into the country’s social history, they are curating dining experiences and authoring cookbooks. It’s a story that might just inspire you to head into the kitchen to cook a feast fit for a king.
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