Talking about traveling, particularly the rugged variety of traveling favored by the youth, can so quickly become an exercise in witting and unwitting and halfwitting braggartry about the distance from indoor plumbing, the extreme isolation of one’s guesthouse, and the rustic nobility of one’s hosts, that it usually seems better to avoid the subject altogether. And now that I look back at my charmed early 20s and realize the immensity of the gift bestowed upon me — the gift of going places and seeing things — to even speak of those days seems gauche. Better I should husband my accounts as ready capital for some social moment when my footing is unsure. If I meet you and mention Uzbekistan, what am I wearing? Is it a turtleneck? Is there an odor?
But no experience is wasted on a writer who is a compulsive memory-miner, and Rushdie put his video-game expertise to good use in the two children’s novels he wrote for his sons, though the second, Luka and the Fire of Life, is more directly indebted to Mario and Luigi than the first. The first, Haroun and the Sea of Stories, was dedicated to Zafar and written during the fatwa years, investing it with an immediacy that gave it a haunting power. Easily the most enchanting of Rushdie’s many novels, this allegorical tale about the war between Storytelling and Silence was an acutely topical portrayal of the synchronous real-world battle between free speech and fanaticism. In the novel, one of young Haroun’s tasks is to rescue the talkative and tuneless Princess Batcheat (baatcheat is the Urdu word for conversation) from Khattam-Shud, the emperor of Silence. Was the chatterbox Princess a reincarnation of the “insufferably pink Princess Toadstool?” And did Mario inspire the character of the mustachioed water genie Iff, who uses his plumber’s wrench to turn on and turn off the faucet through which the Stream of Stories flows via “a P2C2E” (Process too Complicated to Explain)?
If anything, the Rushdie affair remains an absolute affirmation of the essential character of the First Amendment to the Constitution, in defiance of the sort of cultural and moral relativism which would grant exceptions to the universal principle of freedom of speech on religious grounds
Wherever they burn books, they also burn people in the end.
People in the newsroom and on various monitors were already using the word that would soon be hung around his neck like a millstone. “Fatwa.
I arrived at the Jaipur Literature Festival a day late. After flying into India from New York, the plan had been to spend a day sightseeing with friends in Delhi — despite many India trips over the years, it had been more than 20 years since I visited north India — before taking an early morning train into the Pink City just in time for day two of the festival. This plan turned out to be a something of a miscalculation. Though I’d been following the controversy around Salman Rushdie’s invitation, I didn’t realize that the real drama of the “the greatest literary show on earth” (in Tina Brown’s words) would play out just hours after the festival opened.
From the Washington Post:
Rushdie, a recent addition to the Twittersphere, outlined the entire situation on his Twitter feed Monday. He explained that Facebook had first deactivated his account because they didn’t believe he was who he said he was. But after sending in a copy of his passport, the company then said he would have to go by his given first name, Ahmed, on the site.
“They have reactivated my FB page as ‘Ahmed Rushdie,’ in spite of the world knowing me as Salman. Morons,” the author wrote on his account. After trying to get some technical support, Rushdie said he hoped “ridicule by the Twitterverse will achieve what I can’t.”
Source: Washington Post