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14/09/2015 7:50 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST

15 Literary Spats That Captivated India

John Minihan via Getty Images
9th November 1968: Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul, West Indian novelist. (Photo by John Minihan/Evening Standard/Getty Images)

Literary spats are amazing--it's great fun to watch from the sidelines as two writers go at each other's throats. As sublime putdowns ("Pankaj Mishra... remains a writer of promise"), name calling ("sourpuss, a cheapskate and a blamer") and insults ("the instinct to bow down before the conqueror of the moment") rent the air, the rest of us get to watch, revel in the erudition and cattiness, while occasionally consulting the dictionary.

In the backdrop of the little email exchange between two writers we wrote about this morning, here are some of the blockbuster literary feuds that have kept Indians engrossed. This is limited to Indian writers in English and also includes writers who are not strictly Indian but are of interest to us due to their work. The writers featured in this list include Patrick French, V.S. Naipaul, William Dalrymple, Pankaj Mishra, Ramchandra Guha, Arundhati Roy, Taslima Nasreen and Khushwant Singh, among others.

Here are 15 of the most brutal literary battles between the country’s leading chroniclers and thinkers, which have unfolded since 1999. Among the recurring themes in these exchanges are deep divergences about who should be writing about India, and how do English-language authors portray the country to the West.

Be warned that their gloves really come off in these reviews, rejoinders and debates. And boy, it does get personal. Grab popcorn.

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