Massive impact of the East

15th September 1995 at 01:00
With regard first to the impact of Asian writers on our society (TES, September 1) one of the best books ever not to have been nominated for a Booker prize was A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth. It sat at the top of the bestseller list in 1993. There is the massive impact that the stories of One Thousand and one Nights have had throughout the Western child's formative years, witness the recent explosion in marketing of Aladdin. On a more serious note, Islamic novelists such as Naguib Mahfouz or Nawal El-Saadawi are widely read.

As for music, the Ayatollah Khomeini may be good for a quote, but Islam gave us the origin of the flute and tambourine. The guitar (qitare) or lute (al-'ud) still carry their Arabic names. What about chess? That most popular game in the history of mankind began in India. What about the impact of Islamic maths - the notion of zero, or geometric art patterns? The list is endless.

Has Mr Groves met an Islamic woman? The ladies I know certainly take no back seat in family discussion. Maybe we should be influenced by their still strong sense of community and care for the elderly.

Do we need to talk of enriching society or of celebrating differences?

MARK CRASTER-CHAMBERS Cumwhinton, Carlisle, Cumbria.

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