Blog post

The necessity of books: Tariq Ali in New York

Tamar Shlaim28 September 2010

Tariq Ali recounts a cheering encounter in a New York hotel:

A few months ago, tired after an event, I returned to my hotel, desperate for a sandwich and a glass of wine. I was served in the small bar, dominated by a small group listening to music and extremely noisy. Waiting for my food I took out a book I had first read decades ago and which had just been re-issued by Verso with a stunning intro by John Berger. I ignored the noise and dipped into the book, relishing both the ideas and the structure of the sentences exquisitely translated by Anna Bostock for Penguin all those years ago. Suddenly the noise decreased. The young people apologised for being so loud and switched off the music. One of them insisted on buying me a glass of wine. They had no idea who I was so I asked why? "A week ago my boyfriend read the book you're reading and thinks its awesome." We toasted the book. It was The Necessity of Art by Ernst Fischer. The episode cheered me enormously. A really good book will always find a home.