What We Are Reading Today: If: The Untold Story of Kipling’s American Years by Christopher Benfey

Updated 14 July 2019

What We Are Reading Today: If: The Untold Story of Kipling’s American Years by Christopher Benfey

Christopher Benfey has written a masterful biography of Rudyard Kipling’s years in the US. 

It is a little-remembered period from the life of the youngest ever Nobel Prize winner for literature.

Benfey, the Andrew W. Mellon professor of English at Mount Holyoke, “sets out to return Kipling not to the right side of history but to this side of the Atlantic,” Stacy Schiff said in a review for The New York Times.

“Like Hemingway’s in Havana or Joyce’s in Zurich, Kipling’s American years make for a fertile foreign chapter. They yielded the bulk of his most popular work,” said Schiff.

Benfey “eloquently argues not only that Kipling’s engagement with the US made him the writer he became, but that he lavishly returned the favor,” said the review. Benfey “reminds us of our debt to a category-demolishing, globe-striding man who indeed contained multitudes, the author of an immortal ode to equanimity who fled America because of a sordid brawl with his brother-in-law,” added the review.


Startup of the Week: Saudi baker and chef winning hearts of food lovers

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Updated 3 min 59 sec ago

Startup of the Week: Saudi baker and chef winning hearts of food lovers

  • Working over 15 hours a day and being self-taught was just the start; Essam is the interior and graphic designer, the marketer, the CEO and the chef at White Mountain

A Saudi bakery and restaurant business specializing in pastries is finding its way into Saudi hearts with a delectable selection of fine Italian, French, and Swiss foods.
Ahmad Essam, 28, a self-taught baker and chef, left a productive family business to create what is now one of the most prestigious bakeries in Alkhobar.
Essam set up his bakery and restaurant while working as a production engineer, selling tarts and cakes to his friends.
He was overwhelmed by the encouragement he received, and little by little Essam, his dream of running his own company emerged.
Working over 15 hours a day and being self-taught was just the start; Essam is the interior and graphic designer, the marketer, the CEO and the chef at White Mountain.
Baking French pastries such as croissants, macarons, mille-feuille, eclairs and tarts require a true artisan. Essam described the glory he feels when he bakes, saying: “Dealing with precise tips to get the real essence of French pastries and reaching a level to bake without recipes is a matter of experience and good knowledge. Being a real baker requires a lot of learning as it’s not only about mixing water and flour; its trick lies behind the process of fermentation that sometimes lasts for days.’’
Every once in a while, the young man distributes membership books to loyal customers. “On Valentine’s Day, we distributed 3,000 roses,” he added.
Essam is very passionate, and dreams of opening a cooking academy in Saudi Arabia so he can inspire other amateur bakers; he told Arab News about his future 12,000-square-meters cooking village project that he is aiming to create in Riyadh, “including a library that collects all cookbooks, a seasonal spice shop, a great lake garden, a pizzeria, glossary shop and more, all of which falls under one theme: Cooking.”
For him, business is an obsession and profession. “Chefs have their egos. They are dealing with a tricky job and they know what they are doing exactly. They do not accept comments or advice from other chefs,” he explained.
You can follow him for more information on White Mountain on Instagram: @wm.bakery.