What’s on your bookshelf?: Syphilisation and The Quiet Sleep’s Nikhil Murthy

Hello reader who is also a reader, and welcome back to Booked For The Week – our regular Sunday chat with a selection of cool industry folks about books! Of course, regular readers will know that ‘book’ was actually the name of the doctor, but that’s beside the point. This week, it’s Syphilisation and The Quiet Sleep developer and RPS contributor, Nikhil Murthy! Cheers Nikhil! Mind if we have a nose at your bookshelf?

What are you currently reading?

A friend recommended The Right To Sex by Amia Srinivasan so I’m currently reading that. It’s an interesting collection of intersectional feminist provocations. I have a number of quibbles with it but it raises some very good questions and draws interesting lines and that’s what you want from a series of essays like this.

What did you last read?

I read Nonviolent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg for work because I was curious about how ahimsa would look when filtered through pop self-help. It was an unsurprisingly shallow read with no understanding of structural problems or nonviolence. I wouldn’t recommend it at all.

Before that I read Game Poems: Videogame Design as Lyric Practice by Jordan Magnuson, a book which I quite enjoyed even if I have a fundamentally different idea of what constitutes a game poem. Poetry in video games is still a big question in the field and books like this help triangulate towards an answer. I also read Journey to Portugal, a very idiosyncratic and often funny travelogue by Jose Sarramago that finally solved the mystery for me of how Pena Palace can be both so tacky and so sublime.

I read Postcolonial Love Poems before that and I highly recommend it. It’s thunderous, bloody and intelligent. It’s been a bit over a month since I read it and I’m still digesting what I read. I’m almost greedy to go over it again.

What are you eyeing up next?

Most likely, I’m going to try Netherland by Joseph O’Neill, a postcolonial rewriting of Gatsby set in New York right after 9/11. I’ve got The Videogame Industry Does Not Exist by Brendan Keogh, The Spring Of My Life by Kobayashi Issa and If We Burn by Vincent Bevins on deck as well though and I’m going to see what I’m most in the mood to start.

What book do you quote from the most?

Right now, it’s The Waste Land by T. S. Eliot. What can I do? April is the cruelest month. (Ed: Nikhil emailed me in April!)

What book do you find yourself bothering friends to read?

Honestly, I would say Frederica by Georgette Heyer. It’s such a luxury to have a book that you can curl up with and read for pleasure after a long day. This used to be Wodehouse, Christie and Pratchett for me but I’ve read and reread them so many times and Heyer is every bit as good but has lots of books that I have yet to read.

For something deeper, I often recommend Eric Hobsbawn as a way to understand the links between colonialism, the industrial revolution and much of the basis of modern inequality. I also tell people to check out The Last Heroes by P. Sainath. There are not that many people left who actually fought for India’s freedom and P. Sainath wrote this book as a record of their stories before the movement passes from living memory. I also keep pushing The Conquest Of Bread by Peter Kropotkin on tech bros.

What book would you like to see someone adapt to a game?

I would actually say An Artist Of The Floating World by Kazuo Ishiguro. Firstly, it’s one of my favorite books and that’s reason enough to want an adaptation, but also game design often breaks down to nouns and verbs and the helical structure of the book, the way that people shift between roles over the book, the unreliable narrator and the meditations on morality would all do something new and interesting in this design space and I would love to see what it would be.

Great answers, although bad news for those of you that end up adding all our guest’s weekly recommendations to your piles. Also bad news because, yet again, our guest really dropped the ball when it came to the implied assignment to name every book in existence. I guess we’ll have to do it all over again next week, then! No attempted sign off this time. Go make the good art you’ve always wanted to and don’t let anyone own it but you.

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