Bombadil Publishing

Archive for May 2009



IN the 1950s, Soho was a part of London much frequented by writers and painters. Its restaurants were good and cheap and its pubs overpopulated. Dean Street could have been described as the centre, and in Dean Street was a pub officially called the Yorkminster. Its unofficial name was the French Pub, for its owner was French. Gaston Berlemont looked exactly like Hercule Poirot and capitalised on the resemblance. He gave impecunious artists credit, not always willingly. Above the teeming, noisy, and bohemian bar was a restaurant that served excellent French food. This restaurant was where I first met V.S. Naipaul.

arts-graphics-2008_1184758aAt that time I had a friend called Francis Wyndham, a literary critic and an editor with the publishing firm of Andre Deutsch. He kept telling me about a very promising young author from Trinidad and saying I should meet him. I had read and liked Naipaul’s first two books, but I did not see why I should meet a writer simply because I liked his work. After all I was a writer too. Francis coyly said that his author and I had many things in common. I wanted to know what.

“I don’t write novels,” I said. “He doesn’t write poetry.”

“He was at Oxford a couple of years before you.” Francis said.

“That,” I said, “is ridiculous. Why should I waste this poor man’s time because he was at Oxford a couple of years before me?”

“It’s strange,” Francis replied. “Vidia said exactly the same about you when I mentioned this to him. You see, you two do have a lot in common.”

Finally he arranged lunch at the French pub. I liked Naipaul very much as a person. He was very shy — so was I — and as I had told Francis we had nothing whatsoever in common.rieff-600

Over lunch, we talked about books we had read. I have forgotten what they were. Later I mentioned the matter to a friend, who knew Francis and laughed.

“Don’t you know what Vidia Naipaul and you have in common,” he inquired.

“Francis may have been too polite to say so, but you both have brown skins. He may think he was the only White friend either of you had, and that you should keep each other company in this English wilderness.”

swal1That was the first time I ever met Naipaul. Later, when he wrote An Area of Darkness, I reviewed it. I thought it was a wonderful book. After this we had lunch together once or twice. Over the long years since then, we have had occasional, but always friendly, meetings in one place or another. He is a very wise and witty man, when he allows himself to be. I, therefore, rather wish that our last meeting hadn’t been at a recent literary conference that started in Delhi and went on to the famous heritage hotel built out of the old fort of Neemrana.

Apart from the hazards of precipitous steps, not meant for people like me who suffer from vertigo, it was a beautiful place, in which 60-odd writers uneasily allowed themselves to relax and face one another. On our first day there, a poetry reading took place. I read some poems and Naipaul congratulated me on them. I felt pleased about this. He had become different in his appearance and now looked like a famous writer as well as being one. He had also acquired what most famous writers do, an entourage, which constantly hovered around him.

That evening we had dinner in a garden, and were sitting about at various tables afterwards. Some distance away from where we were, I noticed mild confusion. Soon after this another guest came up and said, “Sir Vidia has had the most frightful fight with the American Ambassador’s wife. Each of them ordered the other to leave the party. I don’t know who won.”

A few moments later Naipaul stamped crossly up steep steps to our table, sat down, and said, “The Americans are giving a reception for us tomorrow night. All of you are my friends, and none of you will attend it.” A prolonged and confused silence fell upon us all.

At this point another friend of mine arrived, led up to the table by his wife Lin. This was Ved Mehta, who cannot see. In the uncertain light, she did not notice Naipaul or inform Ved that he was among those present. This was unfortunate, since he, addressing us all, inquired in a concerned fashion, “Do you think Naipaul has become a megalomaniac?”

The English writer David Pryce-Jones, who was with Ved and me at university, leant over and whispered, “Careful, Ved! Careful!”

Ved replied, “Why should I be careful, David? I honestly think there’s something wrong with him.” Sir Vidia rose and walked away.

Next day, like Achilles, he sulked in his tent, or bedroom, demanding that the Ambassador’s wife should send him a written apology. Author after author went up to plead with him before he rejoined the conference.

He was not present at the American party. The rest of us went. A great change had taken place in the shy young writer I first met in the French pub. Change isn’t always for the better.

Dom Moraes is a writer, poet and columnist based in Mumbai.



Bombadil Publishing, a bright new light in a traditional world, is a youth‐to‐youth publisher, publishing the stories and delivering the messages that young people choose to read.
The success of Bombadil Publishing clearly shows that young people read more than ever and want to have a greater say in and influence over what they read. And it is their say, their dreams and their thoughts that sell books and with a presence in 82 countries, the Bombadilians have firmly established Bombadil Publishing on the global market.

Armed with a new freedom of expression, there seems to be no stopping the young authors and readers; they have created new avenues for marketing, new ways of getting their dreams heard, and have now been instrumental in getting Bombadil Publishing to release a new social network for youth authorship.

The beta version of the social network was released on May 4, and although Bombadil Publishing is about youth publishing, the social network is open to people of all ages, the reason being that a social network is about communicating, about enjoying books and literature but perhaps most
of all about sharing dreams and interests, all of which should not be age related.
The release of the new social network has been welcomed by Bombadil Publishing’s over 6000 young Bombadilians working on their books under the auspices of hard working and inspiring mentors in the Bombadil team. What binds together these talented authors in 82 counties are a strong ideology, a wish to have a voice and an amazing collective and individual creative ability to inspire and be inspired, to write and to be read.

By providing a global outlet for young people who want to read and write new and, for them, relevant books, Bombadil Publishing allows young people to retain their identity and individualistic approach to life while interacting with and growing from one of the world’s oldest and most traditional industries.

Having an own social network for authors gives a further slant to Bombadil’s leading edge in youth publishing giving the members the possibility to interact in shaping the future of books, a future that is bright and beautiful, full of fresh energy and new opportunities.
Youth‐2‐Youth publishing – inspiring dreams
Sweden, 4th May 2009
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