Q. Which book/author should be banned on grounds of bad taste? A. No book should ever be banned. Banning a book is in bad taste.

Arunava Sinha translates classic and contemporary Bengali fiction into English. His published translations include Chowringhee, The Middleman (both by Sankar), Three Women (Rabindranath Tagore), The Chieftain’s Daughter (Bankimchandra Chatterjee) and Harbart (Nabarun Bhattacharya). Born and brought up in Kolkata, Sinha lives and writes in New Delhi. His latest translation project, Dozakhanama: The Book of Hell, by Rabi Shankar Bal, has been recently published by Random House.

  • QDescribe your favourite writing space.

    A sofa in the sitting room at home, leaning back against one of the arms with my feet up.
  • QDo you have a writing schedule?

    Usually between 10 pm and 1 am on weekdays and as much of the day as possible on weekends. But also stolen moments here, there and everywhere.
  • QEver struggled with writer’s block?

    Since I translate rather than create my own material, never. If I have temporary problems with a particular text, I switch to another.
  • QWhat inspires you to write? Do you have a secret trick, or a book/author that helps?

    The quality of the books I translate is inspiration enough.
  • QCoffee/tea/cigarettes — numbers please — while you are writing?

    A cup of coffee every two-three writing hours when the sun is up. Nothing after sundown, except, sometimes, a square of chocolate.
  • QWho are your favourite authors?

    At this moment they are Jorge Amado, Mario Vargas Llosa, John Steinbeck, Amitav Ghosh, Buddhadeva Bose.
  • QWhich book/author should be banned on grounds of bad taste?

    No book should ever be banned. Banning a book is in bad taste.
  • QWhich is the most under-rated book?

    Five of them: Daniel Pennac’s five-novel series about the family of Benjamin Malaussene — The Scapegoat, The Fairy Gunmother, Write to Kill, Monsieur Malaussene and Passion Fruit.
  • QWhich are your favourite children’s books?

    The William series by Richmal Crompton.
  • QWhich classics do you want to read?

    Herman Melville’s Moby Dick and Murasaki Shikibu’s The Tale of Genji.


Despite being a hack for more than three decades, I am yet to be invited for any political iftar party. Thereby, no one can accuse me of holding a grouse against any leader for not marking an invite to me. Throughout his 13 years as the chief minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi never hosted one, breaking a tradition that his predecessor Keshubhai Patel followed.

Rarely in a diplomat’s career is one lucky enough to have a posting that is important and interesting, combining the elements of classic diplomacy with the new tools of development diplomacy, new media and social networks. Israel and India established full diplomatic relations just 22 years ago during the time of P.V. Narasimha Rao.