‘A rebel shaped by intellect’

Tariq Ali interviewed about Night of the Golden Butterfly by Syed Hamad Ali for Gulf News, August 20, 2010

Tariq Ali has always spoken his mind without the fear that it might raise a storm …

For nearly half a century Tariq Ali has stood a towering figure on the Left who has rallied against the corruption that power breeds. “I am used to being attacked in the Western media,” the writer tells Weekend Review. “It used to happen non-stop and still does occasionally. But I am never really bothered. My advice to others, especially young writers starting to write, is: Never write to please. If you write to please those in power or those who determine literary prizes, it’s not good for creativity or literature. Write what you really feel like, whatever it is, but never write to a pattern. And I have never done that. I write what I want to write. I don’t care if people like it. If they don’t like it, it doesn’t bother me.”

There is an unmistakable aura of defiance surrounding the 66-year-old man sitting next to me at a table covered in a clutter of newspapers and letters, at his home in Highgate, London.

Born in Pakistan in 1943, Ali was still a youngster when he began to show signs of his rebellious nature. One incident in particular should have raised alarm bells about things to come. It happened in 1957, when a black man by the name of Jimmy Wilson was sentenced to death in the US for stealing what amounted to about a dollar. When on the other end of the globe in Pakistan a young Ali came across news of what had happened, he managed to work himself into such a rage he got about 20-30 of his school friends to agree to take a protest letter to the US Consulate in Lahore. read more

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