Happy birthday, Salman Rushdie

Salman Rushdie
Salman Rushdie

Happy birthday, Salman Rushdie!

He is all of 67 today. What a pity a book he began with such brio has haunted him ever since.

Few books open as memorably as The Satanic Verses. I cannot imagine any other writer describing an air crash quite like him. After the plane explodes over the English Channel, the two protagonists, Gibreel Farishta and Saladin Chamcha, are the only survivors, found washed up on a snowbound English beach.

I have not read beyond the opening because I don’t want to get into any religious controversy. All religions should be respected. I don’t want to hear ill of any religion.

But the opening of this novel is unforgettable. The two characters falling from the sky, flapping their arms and singing as they fall, reminded me of Walt Disney and Mary Poppins.Continue Reading

Joseph Anton: Rushdie on Rushdie

I remember watching on CNN the World Trade Center collapse on September 11, 2001.

I could not believe my eyes as the two planes commandeered by al-Qaeda terrorists hit the twin towers, bringing them down in tongues of fire, clouds of smoke.

Nearly 3,000 people were killed and retribution followed with the Americans going after al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, the war on terror, security stepped up everywhere. Commentators began to talk of a post-9/11 world.

But actually the change began more than a decade ago when Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa in February 1989, calling for the death of Salman Rushdie for blaspheming the Prophet in The Satanic Verses.

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Margaret Thatcher and the books of her time

I blogged about Margaret Thatcher and the music of her time and have seen quite a few articles since then about the British pop music scene of that era. One should recall the books, too. It was a grand time for booklovers.

P.G. Wodehouse died in 1975, but one could look forward to new books by  John le Carre, Len Deighton, P.D. James, Colin Dexter, Ruth Rendell, Gerald Durrell and a phalanx of literary fiction.

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Salman Rushdie raps ‘the real enemies of Islam’

It’s a shame Salman Rushdie wasn’t allowed to address the Jaipur Literature Festival even by video link because of opposition from Muslim groups. “Even seeing his face is intolerable,” said Muslims protesting against the proposed video conference with the author of The Satanic Verses, which is banned in India.Continue Reading