Shagufta Rafique became a sex worker at the age of 17, joined bar-dancing some years later, and now finds success as a film scriptwriter.

On page 45 of Paying For It, Chester Brown’s graphic memoir—in the sense of a graphic novel, not in the sense of being explicit, though it is also sometimes that—about paying for sex, there is a cloud of grey dots where a condommed penis should be. This is surprising, not only because Brown’s book is a sexual memoir, but also because it is otherwise full of uncensored nudity, or, more precisely, of minimalist line-drawings of unclothed people.

Zealot
Zealot

Author Reza Aslan believes that Jesus probably lacked the education to read a book like the Bible. Or the Torah, or any other written text for that matter, no matter the language.

Aslan’s new book “Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth” is a revisionist take on the life of Jesus, arguing that his message of love was aimed more at a Jewish audience than a global one, that his attitude toward violence was “far more complex” than is generally thought, and that he was “very likely” illiterate.

When Catherine Lundoff asked me to write about the Chinese werewolves in my urban fantasy series set in Singapore, I actually rummaged through my head for things to write. Many people are curious about the Langand desire to know more about them. I often reply that they were Chinese wolves, not the typical werewolves-doomed-to-change-during-full-moon, but wolves in human bodies. Some readers have said that they are more like spirit wolves. These wolves walk side by side their human counterparts, by all means Singaporean Chinese and indistinguishable. But like wolves, leery of strangers, of the crowd and of cramped spaces.  So, as I rummaged through my head, what should I write about the Chinese werewolves?

Orhan Pamuk
Orhan Pamuk

Pankaj Mishra: Is the economic success of countries like Turkey or India or China going to breathe new life into the novel?

Orhan Pamuk: I think so. I strongly believe that. The novel is a middle-class art. And we see the proliferation of middle classes in India, China, definitely in Turkey, so everyone is writing novels. If you want to predict the future, I can predict that in Europe, in the West, the importance of literary novels will decrease, while in China, India, popular literature will continue. Innovation will come from there, because the populations are large, there will be a lot of production.

I’m writing a novel now about immigration to Istanbul. Starting in the late-’50s, especially in the ’60s, immigration to Istanbul from the poorest parts of Turkey began. And then Turkish shantytowns were beginning to be built in the mid-’50s, but in the ’60s, they flourished. This is not a middle-class changing of cultures. This is the proletariat, the most dispossessed.

My Brazilian friend Marina and I were picking up a visiting friend from New York, who heads an NGO, in her hotel lobby near Paulista, the most prestigious avenue in São Paulo. It was 7:30 on a busy Friday night last October.

We walked up to a taxi outside the hotel. I sat in the front to let the two women chat in the back. Marina asked me to Google the restaurant menu. I was doing so when I saw a teenage boy run up to the taxi and gesticulate through my open window. I thought he was a beggar, asking for money. Then I saw the gun, going from my head to the cell phone.

“Just give him the phone,” Marina said from the back seat.

I gave him the phone. He didn’t go away.

Dinheiro, dinheiro!