Saturday, July 12, 2008

Salman Rushdie in Madison

Ever since I read The Moor's Last Sigh, I've been an ardent fan of Salman Rushdie. His writing is such that, even if you don't like the story, you'll keep reading his books for the sheer beauty of the prose (case in point: The ground beneath her feet). No other author I've read (admittedly few in number) manages to string words together in an way which conveys emotion and conjures up images, and at the same time plays with puns, dabbles with double-meaning and sparkles with satire.

So imagine my joy when I chanced upon an announcement in the local newspaper that the recently newly-knighted author was to appear in Madison promoting his new book The Enchantress of Florence. So I landed up at the Borders store at 7:00 pm on July 11, 2008 to listen to him reading a few pages of his new book and answering a few questions.

A very healthy crowd was already assembled at the place by the time we went. I was quite surprised that so many Americans knew about Salman Rushdie, given that he generally doesn't write about America.(Then again, the fatwa has made him quite famous all over the world).
In the next half hour, Rushdie talked about his book, and the amount of meticulous research that went into it(apparently 7 years of research and 1.5 years of writing). He read half a chapter from his new book, relating the meeting of Qara Koz, the eponymous Enchantress and Argalia the Italian mercenary. He was witty and humorous, inciting quite a few chuckles among the motley group of people gathered there. After reading from the book, the stage was let open for questions, which he again answered with wit. Thankfully (and surprisingly) there were no controvertial questions or questions related to the fatwa etc.
So what did I come away with? An increased respect for one of my favourite authors and yes, an autographed copy of his new book.

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