In early 2014, after many years living abroad, Sam Miller returned to his childhood home in London. His father was dying.
When the editor, writer, critic and academic Karl Miller died later that year, the obituaries spoke of his brilliance and influence, of how he founded the London Review of Books, and how he had shaped the careers of some of the finest writers and poets of the second half of the twentieth century. But they gave little sense of Karl Miller beyond the world of work: the warm, funny, football-loving family man so adored by his children and grandchildren.
In the months after his death, Sam began to write about his father. He had been told, long ago, a family secret involving his parents and a close friend. Now, by reading his father’s papers and with the help of his mother, he was able to piece together a remarkable story.
Fathers is the result: a tender, thoughtful exploration of childhood and parenthood, of friendship, love and loyalty.
Introducing the Marvellous Captain Corcoran – he is charming to ladies, courteous to true gentlemen, death to pirates and merciless to the English. He speaks several languages, can bend an iron bar with his bare hands, and has adventured his way across the seven seas with his faithful friend Louison by his side. Loyal only to her master, Louison can be a little boisterous, and there’s devil to pay when she misses a meal (she is a tiger, after all).
Corcoran is on the hunt for a lost sacred Hindu text. Once in India, he is soon distracted from his quest by the claims of Prince Holkar, his lotus-eyed daughter, and their daring stand against the English occupying forces.
Beloved by many French schoolchildren (including the young Jean-Paul Sartre) at the turn of the century, the marvellous Corcoran has been too long forgotten. Sam Miller (author of Strange Kind of Paradise: India through Foreign Eyes) has loving translated these wild, funny, unabashedly romantic adventures from the French for the first time so that the Captain and his charming Louison can be embraced by a new generation of readers, young and old.
A Strange Kind of Paradise is an exploration of India’s past and present, from the perspective of a foreigner who has lived in India for many years. Sam Miller investigates how the ancient Greeks, the Romans, the Chinese, Arabs, Africans, Europeans and Americans – everyone really, except for Indians themselves – came to imagine India.
His account of the engagement between foreigners and India spans the centuries from Alexander the Great to Slumdog Millionaire. It features, among many others, Thomas the Apostle, the Chinese monk Xuanzang, Marco Polo, Ibn Battuta, Vasco da Gama, Babur, Clive of India, several Victorian pornographers, Mark Twain, E. M. Forster, Allen Ginsberg, the Beatles and Steve Jobs. Interspersed between these tales is the story of Sam Miller’s own 25-year-long love affair with India.
The result is a spellbinding, 2,500-year-long journey through Indian history, culture and society, in the company of an author who informs, educates and entertains in equal measure, as he travels in the footsteps of foreign chroniclers, exposes some of their fabulous fantasies and overturns long-held stereotypes about race, identity and migration. At once scholarly and thought-provoking, delightfully eccentric and laugh-out-loud funny, this book is destined to become a much-loved classic.
In an extraordinary portrayal of one of the world's fastest growing cities, Sam Miller sets out to discover the real Delhi. Following a spiral course through the city, he visits its less celebrated destinations; the unexpected, the ignored and the eccentric.
Through his encounters with Delhi's people - from a professor of astrophysics to a crematorium attendant, from ragpickers to members of the Police Brass Band - Miller creates a richly entertaining portrait of what this megacity means to its residents. The modern Delhi he depicts, in all its humour and humanity, is one whose future concerns us all.
Alfred Assollant was born in 1827. He was a teacher, journalist, writer and outspoken opponent of Napoleon III. He wrote more than thirty books over thirty years, including historical fiction, collected essays and a treatise on the rights of women, but only The Marvellous (But Authentic) Adventures of Captain Corcoran, published in 1867, was a success. In the 1870s, his wife, son and daughter died in quick succession and Assollant found himself poverty-stricken. In 1886 he also died, all but forgotten despite the continuing success of Corcoran, in a paupers’ hospital in Paris.
Sam Miller was born and brought up in London. He studied History at the university of Cambridge and Politics at London University’s School of Oriental and African Studies, before joining the BBC in 1986, for which he has worked, on and off, ever since. In the early 1990s he was the BBC World Service TV and radio correspondent in Delhi, and on his return to the UK in 1993 was the presenter of the BBC’s current affairs programme, South Asia Report. Later he became the head of the Urdu service and subsequently Managing Editor, South Asia. He was posted back to Delhi in 2002 and has remained there ever since. He is the author of Delhi: Adventures in a Megacity (2009), Blue Guide: India (2012) A Strange Kind of Paradise: India Through Foreign Eyes (2014), and most recently Fathers, which was published by Jonathan Cape in 2017.