Rob Nixon

Rob Nixon is associate professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University in New York. His most recent book is Homelands, Harlem and Hollywood: South African Culture and the World Beyond.


Rob Nixon, 4 April 1996

Ken Saro-Wiwa squints at us from the cover of his detention diary, the posthumous A Month and a Day. His moustache looks precise and trim; his eyes are alight; the distinctive gash scrawls across his temple. But the picture is governed by his pipe. It’s an intellectual’s accessory, a good pipe to suck and clench, to spew from and lecture with. He had hoped tobacco would kill him: ‘I know that I am a mortuary candidate, but I intend to head for the mortuary with my pipe smoking.’ In the end, it was another kind of pipe that got him, spilling toxins indiscriminately into the land, rivers and lungs of his Ogoni people.

A Dingy Start to the Day

Frank Kermode, 10 September 1992

The collocation of these books suggests a moral: it is easier to write well about living authors if they annoy you than if you worship the very paper they write on. Rob Nixon is censorious and...

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