Heroine

It’s surreal to watch your favourite writer on stage. It’s like watching your favourite actor off stage. Or like watching your cat on a hot tin roof: he’s afraid to jump because he doesn’t know where he’s going to land. On my last day at the Jaipur Literary Festival when everyone was pissed off (the Muslims were still fuming because Salman Rushdie was invited last year, the Hindus were irate because Pakistani writers were invited this year, and the Chinese, well the Chinese were pissed about the Dalai Lama), and I was adequately hungover and sleep deprived, I sat in the scintillating sunshine of the festival lawns with my sunglasses and hat, to listen to Howard Jacobson. His wry sense of humour that had me in splits through every page of The Finkler Question was everywhere –in his coat, in his fuzzy brown hair and salt and pepper beard, in his eyes that cackled with the spectators. He said something that morning I could identify with. He said that years before he became a writer, he dressed like a writer. That’s what I’ve been doing. Before I even knew I wanted to be a writer, I was dressing like one. I was like the heroine in a Mills & Boon novel who doesn’t know that she’s in love with the hero, but she is.

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