Good Life



Scotland-born William Dalrymple was educated at Ampleforth and Trinity College, Cambridge. His book City Of Djinns won the Thomas Cook Travel Book Award and the Sunday Times Young British Writer of the Year Award. The master wordsmith reveals the jewels in Return of a King and his newest offering The Anarchy. He lets us in on loving music and artists like Karsh Kale and Pepe, as Sufi tones remain a game-changer for him.


Tell us about Return of a King? How long did it take to pen it down? What made you think about the British invasion of Afghanistan?

The Return of a King is almost three years old. I am  now working on my new book The Anarchy. I travelled a lot in Afghanistan when it was still possible. Looking back now, I am so glad that I did because half of the places I visited are completely lost to the Taliban now. I was struck by the parallels between what was happening in 2009-2011, when I was writing the book and the situation in 1842. So it’s using history as a warning and a lesson for the present.

Your book has been shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson, Duff Cooper and PEN Hessell-Tiltman prizes? Are literary prizes an important acknowledgement of your work?

Well, it won two prizes-the Hemingway Prize and the Kapuściński Prize. I think prizes are importantbecause there are so many books published and it’s the only way of sorting out the wheat from the chaffor the sheep from the goats. I am certainly very proud that each of my books has won a prize. Prizes are asubjective opinion of a randomly chosen group, but it distinguishes writers from the prizes they havewon and it’s an enormous boost to win the big ones, both financially and in terms of confidence.


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