My Week In Media: Mohsin Hamid

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The Independent Online

Last week I watched...

I'm in Palo Alto, California and I've been amazed to see that one of the big stories on the local channels is the fate of a family of beavers who have dammed up a small creek. There's Hillary/Obama, the economy potentially sliding into the gutter, and then a very long piece on the beavers. I don't know whether to read this as a sign of nascent US environmentalism, or a kind of provincialism that is avoiding important issues.

Last week I read...

I've been reading The New York Times every day. What's striking is how different it is from British newspapers. It feels like a genteel civics lesson: telling you what an honourable soldier should be like and what a politician should be like, how people and democracy should be. The vibrancy we get in Britain is missing. An article in the "Style" section talked about how people in London are mesmerised by the American election. I think that is partly true, but then it talked about how everybody is angling to get invitations to Elisabeth Murdoch's Notting Hill fundraiser. It amazed me that this article, which was supposed to be writing about London in general, was focusing on a tiny affluent subset of London.

I wonder whether the limitations on speech in the US today can be seen in how different The New York Times feels in comparison with the papers of record in the UK. If this really is the great newspaper of America and of the world, then is it true that the blogosphere is where exciting writing is at the moment?

I'm not sure if guys are supposed to read Vanity Fair. I feel very metrosexual with it, but am not sure it's in my comfort zone. In the green issue with Madonna on the cover there is an article about the architect William McDonough. His philosophy is that any waste should be used to create new stuff. What I found inspiring is that he is arguing for a sustainable world that is not a boring, efficiency-fuelled thing we will never succeed in selling to humans, but an exciting design challenge.

Last week I surfed...

I've become drawn to Like everybody in London who doesn't own a house, I'm ready for Armageddon and want house prices to crash. Even if the economy collapses, I'll take that risk

Last week I listened to...

I found Radio 4's In Our Time online. There was an amazing programme on Carl Jung. It's a wonderful long form format.

'The Reluctant Fundamentalist' by Mohsin Hamid was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 2007. It is published in paperback by Hamish Hamilton on Thursday