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Amitav Ghosh gets the lowdown from Christopher Lydon
Amitav Ghosh gets the lowdown from Christopher Lydon

Because great novelists get there first and tell the truth (think of Dostoevsky foreseeing the Soviet Century, Graham Green on Vietnam, Orwell in "1984" and "Animal Farm," Conrad in "The Secret Agent," and add your own favorites)... and because especially in a crisis we hunger, in Robert Burns' phrase, "to see ourselves as others see us," we are interviewing writers this hour--writers from afar who tend to see America as "the other."

Amin Maalouf, who wrote "Leo Africanus" and "The Crusades Through Arab Eyes," grew up in Lebanon and moved to Paris in his twenties, about 25 years ago.

Azar Nafisi is an Iranian, now at Johns Hopkins, who chronicles the contemporary power of classic literature in her marvelous "Reading Lolita in Tehran."

Amitav Ghosh is an Indian from Calcutta, now raising his American kids in Manhattan. He wrote "In an Antique Land" and the epic novel about the British in Burma, starting in 1885: "The Glass Palace."

The question is: in the long view, from a writer's perspective, what are we going through in this very dangerous season?

Guests: Amin Maalouf, Azar Nafisi, Amitav Ghosh

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