September 06, 2002 at 04:00 AM EDT

Tonight on Fox: When Postcolonial Novelists Recycle! Rushdie’s book gathers every ort of fact he’s word-processed in the past decade, including long-stale op-ed pieces, slavering music journalism, and what seems to be a deep caption for National Geographic. He’s in top form in a study of The Wizard of Oz that’s an emerald-bright digression on home and homelessness, but it’s been available as a British Film Institute monograph for quite some time. As has the best stuff in The Writer and the World, a greatest-hits collection in which the Nobelist acutely analyzes the workings of power in India, Africa, and the Americas. Some of ”Argentina and the Ghost of Eva Peron, 1972-1991” is already in The Return of Eva Peron; ”The Overcrowded Barracoon,” about the Black Power movement in Mauritania, is already in The Overcrowded Barracoon. As a reporter, Naipaul sometimes evinces a knack for bungling the most foolproof material. His piece on Mailer’s 1969 run for the mayoralty of New York turns into a report on how boring the campaign was and contracts the dullness itself.

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