Amit Dasgupta is a career diplomat who ruefully intimates that career compulsions have made him into something of a specialist on that bureaucratic labyrinth, the World Trade Organisation. Poring over the arcana of the Uruguay Round, and import quotas, and non-tariff barriers and intellectual property rights, and purchasing power parity – an exercise which might be likened to a latter-day version of sequestered monks computing the number of angels that could dance on the head of a pin – can have all kinds of repercussions. Fortunately for us, in Amit’s case dealing with the terminal tedium of the WTO has led to a reflexive break-out in a world of delightful fantasy: In The Land of the Blue Jasmine, an enchanting moral fable guaranteed to enthrall a cross-generational readership. While WTO-induced boredom may have been the subliminal cause that brought about the Land of the Blue Jasmine, its proximate cause is far more poignant and personal: like all stories that are truer to life than living itself, Jasmine contains a story within a story. This internal story is related by Amit in his back-of-the-book Acknowledgements.
October 2006, volume 30, No 10