Salman speaks

Hey look, Salman Rushdie is on C-Span live right now. Well actually not right now, the woman who co-owns Politics and Prose is on right now, introducing him. Melody was on before that.

Now Robert Siegel is talking.

So watch and listen!

I’ll live-blog it, that’s what.

Paraphrase: It’s very difficult to write about duration. It was like the pampas, as Borges described it. You can’t take a picture of it, because it looks like a field. You can only get a sense of it by traveling in it, and then it just goes on and on, and it’s always the same, and it goes on and on, and it’s always the same, and it goes on and on.

The fatwa was like that.

One of the greatest things about the history of literature is that writers have always taken on ogres. When Mandelstam wrote about Stalin he knew who he was. When Lorca wrote about Franco he knew who he was. Writers have always stood up to tyrants.

The Satanic Verses wasn’t primarily a novel about Islam. It was primarily about migration.

I have less religion than you could inscribe on a chewed-off fingernail. [applause]

After he signed the absurd statement of religious faith, he felt like throwing up. “At that point, I just thought the hell with it. No more appeasement, no more apology. Fuck it.”

Out of that moment – it was an awful moment – he became the person he is, the person who could say what he says.

It was Christmas Eve 1990. Weirdly enough, I remember it. I was horrified that he’d made a “statement of faith.”

We can’t live in a world where what we can say is determined by violence.

[On the bounty] No one’s ever taken this old gentleman seriously, even in Iran, because he doesn’t have the money.

That’s one of the problems with Iran is that even the liberals are assholes.

What you need when you write for children: you need lots of jump.

It’s strange coming to Washington with Christopher not here.

We invented this game of titles that didn’t quite make it. A Farewell to Weapons. Toby Dick. aka Moby Prick. Blueberry Finn.

They weren’t close friends until the fatwa. They became close friends because he wanted it that way.


  1. davidmc says

    Jerry Coyne was on BBC3 9pm last night explaining to a group of creationists why Noahs Ark couldnt work. I think PZ may be on next weeks episode which is about alien conspiracy theorists.

  2. says

    I am reading Joseph Anton now. It does have a certain undeniable power. Rushdie was always one hell of a writer. But I think I may even like him even better now that he’s properly pissed.

    Scratch that. I don’t think I do. I know I do.

    How will it be with those who shaped him to the thing he is. And how richly do they deserve it.

  3. brianengler says

    For those who missed the event, it’ll be rebroadcast on Oct 21st (link in post). I was pleasantly surprised at how funny Salman Rushdie was at times. And getting to see (rather than just hear) Robert Siegel interview him was icing on the cake.

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