Support Salman Rushdie, read him

Salman Rushdie was stabbed multiple times yesterday at the Chautauqua Institute in Western New York. He is on a ventilator. He has wounds to his neck, stomach and liver; a nerve has been severed in one of his arms; and, according to his literary agent Andrew Wiley, he may lose an eye. This unique symbol of daring artistic ambition suddenly turned into a human being, in severe pain.

Over the years, I have interviewed Rushdie at public events in Toronto and New York, and hosted him at events related to PEN Canada and the University of Toronto. Every time I take one of these my mom tells me to be careful. Each time, I ignored her warnings. Of course, I’ll be on stage with Rushdie: my own commitment to free speech and a higher quality of literature is more important to me than to my personal safety – of all, with Rushdie Coming together is almost as clear and sure as this is a sign that can be given. And, after all these years, of course I’ll be on stage with him: is anyone really excited about Salman Rushdie or even a novel?no satanic scriptures Controversy is just the fading of history, useful only as a stellar point of reference to demonstrate one’s literary and political sincerity?

But now we have this answer these questions.

This satanic scriptures Published 10 years before Rushdie’s 24-year-old alleged attacker Hadi Mattar was born. More than 30 years have passed since Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini issued a religious decree, Rushdie’s death is called for because of the novelist’s description of the Prophet Muhammad and Islam. The early fatwas had sufficiently dire consequences: deadly riots and bookstore bombings around the world; several of Rushdie’s publishers and translators were attacked, including the stabbed Japanese professor Ren Igarashi . All told, some 45 people lost their lives in the international uproar that greeted the novel.

Rushdie went into hiding for more than a decade in the face of a religiously sanctioned reward for life, a misplaced and hopeless experience he wrote in his 2012 memoir. Joseph Anton. He has largely returned to public life since then. Before yesterday’s attack, Rushdie was free to move around in his adopted New York City and the wider cultural and literary world.

He has shown a great sense of humor and great energy in recent appearances – such as his cameo in 2017’s Larry David curb your enthusiasm, along with Lin-Manuel Miranda, issued the fatwa itself. Along the way, he shrugs off the endless questions about whether he still fears death threats. In fact, some criticism of Chautauqua’s possible security breach was at odds with Rushdie’s feelings about his work and himself. He chose to put freedom of speech and freedom of action ahead of their horrific choices.

Like his other interlocutors around the world, I suspect that prior to the event we did together, I received two requests from him: First, if security has to exist, it shouldn’t be visible or dominant Existence; second, whatever we’re going to talk about at screen time, let it be something other than a fatwa. I chatted with him backstage before an event in Brooklyn in December 2015 and mentioned Fatwa by the way and satanic verse. He pointedly reminded me that he has published many other books – including eight novels since verse, two children’s stories, a memoir and two nonfiction collections. His dismay at the continued public attention to the “Rushdie Affair” undoubtedly has to do with his desire to move on as an artist and as a person.

Alas, yesterday’s attack put that part of his identity front and center again. It has drawn anger and sympathy from a range of public figures – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and novelist Ian McEwan; in the US, New York Governor Kathy Hochul and PEN America President Ayad Akhtar. This is a rare chorus. Politicians and artists are often suspicious of each other, even contemptuous. Here they unanimously say: The attack on Salman Rushdie was appalling and wrong (except for those who commented on Iranian social media, obviously).

I was in Milwaukee for a family reunion when the news broke. Many of my Midwestern in-laws—not typical Salman Rushdie readers—know him, his famous book, and what happened after it was published. In short, Rushdie still matters. No other writer’s work carries such high stakes. It’s too bad for all of us, including Rushdie.

In past decades and centuries, writers have taken brave risks that today seem extraordinary to express their views on religion and politics: Solzhenitsyn, Joyce, Wilde, Voltaire , Dante. But in our current literary culture, writers strive to achieve that relevance. They have to negotiate with sensitive readers in the publishing industry, and then hopefully find real readers, and still insist on seeing themselves as artists rather than the protagonists (or adversaries) of the identities dictated by algorithms. Granted, it’s easier to lament this than to follow Rushdie’s pattern.

We see the wounded Rushdie as the pinnacle of our common defense of artistic freedom, but do we have the talent and courage to follow him? We can more easily show our solidarity with him and advance the principles he embodies by committing to literature that boldly and ambitiously makes the act of writing, publishing, and reading bold and world-changing again, even if it has to be dangerous.

And this: We can actually read something about Salman Rushdie instead of just scrolling and sharing links about him and the raid. One of the other books he wanted to be famous for.

the ground under her feet is a good candidate. Published in 1999, the novel is a funny, violent and harsh reinvention of the myth of two rock stars, Orpheus. It’s full of encyclopedic references, electronic word games, pop culture callouts, and deep reflections on the whiplash experience of being famous and hidden, too visible and gone. One of the two protagonists, Verna, who grew up partly in upstate New York and visited American universities to offer “chautauquas…improvised monologues whose closest cousins ​​are the oral narrative sessions of the great Indian storytellers, Actually an existing Indian from an actual existing India, as she likes to say, taking the rank above the red race and saying what it means, although it’s part of her magic that makes her what she is Something of a great man, at least in public, that no Native American has ever offended.”

Given Rushdie’s talent for verbal and intellectual acrobatics, and his provocative, delightful sense of irony and coincidence that spans reality and imagination, I’m sure he’ll talk about groundon that stage in Giottoqua, it’s Giottoqua delivering upstate — the New York diva — if not the attacker, and if the audience wants to hear his work, not just about his freedom to write. ground By the way, the narrator’s suddenly resonant observation ends: “The chaos continues, I don’t deny it, but we have the power to do it too.”

What is the ability? Read Rushdie.

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