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His prose is always elegant, his ideas always pulsate with energy and his humanity shines through every page.

But his literary criticism, deeply embedded in youthful exuberance, lacks bite.

I remember the frisson when, as college students, we discovered and staged plays with gay allusions and characters by authors such as Tennessee Williams.

My own Westernised parents were sexually liberated and tolerant, but they were very much the exception.

And yet India, always a land of contradictions, allows Gay Pride marches in most major cities, has vibrant gay pressure groups and publications and officially accepts people who are transgender.

When I grew up in India's most cosmopolitan city, Bombay, in the 1960s, the very mention of homosexuality was taboo, and absolutely no one was “out”.

But he is doing much more than simply providing illuminating insights into Indian cultural life in the West.

He is showing a way forward for cultural criticism, with the critic as an insightful storyteller.

Moreover, his India, too anchored to Bombay, is much too truncated.

During my trip, I took part in Bombay's annual book festival. You're all criminals under Section 377.” That's the provision of the Indian Penal Code which forbids not just gay sex, but any sexual act other than penile-vaginal intercourse.

I was on a panel about equal rights, along with the prominent human rights lawyer Anand Grover. Grover led a legal battle in the Delhi High Court to get Section 377 declared unconstitutional, because it violates citizens' rights to equality, privacy and dignity guaranteed in India's written constitution.

He examines a host of "Indian" expatriate writers, including Rushdie, Kureishi, Naipaul, Roy and Gandhi, looking at each author from his own perspective as a writer in exile.

As Kumar tries to answer the question of why we write, and (perhaps more importantly) how and why we read, he lyrically evokes the standard diasporic themes of abandonment, exile and romantic nostalgia for a "home" left behind.