So I was in a small used book shop in Pondicherry, India a couple of weeks ago, as I had read all the books I brought with me for my trip. I picked up 2 non-fiction books, and was looking for a fiction title that might spark my interest (indeed, The Fountainhead in its original cover art and glory was fastidiously placed high above all others, beckoning me, but I left it for another to read it, as hoarding it’s copies serves me no joy).
I saw a furtive black and orange cover on the shelf, and the words in all caps, as the header “SALMAN RUSHDIE” and the footer “THE MOOR’S LAST SIGH”.
I took a gamble based on something I had heard Neil Gaiman, a favourite author of mine, once say about Rushdie’s literary prowess. Though I couldn’t recall in verbatim his assessment of Rushdie, I remember it being mysterious enough a statement to peak my curiosity, so I paid for it, and the other 2 books, and left for home.
I started The Moor’s Last Sigh about a week later and haven’t been able to put it down. I could go on and on about its beautiful portrait of India in all it’s ugliness and beauty, it’s backdrop of post WWI, WWII, India’s fight for independence, and the technology of the 80’s and 90’s, and Rushdie’s elegant use of Magical Realism, to an understanding of poetic jargon that only Indian’s could truly appreciate. But that’s not what inspired me to blog about Rushdie.
I was in Jaipur a few days prior to my buying The Moor’s Last Sigh, and for those of you who are unaware, I was a few days too early for the annual Jaipur Literature Festival. Read all about it, but the gist of this is Rushdie (and many other writers, and Oprah, for some strange reason) were all to be attending. I read the news today on Wikipedia (I do not trust newspapers, or any news source with advertisements, as shouldn’t you. When information only exists because private corporations are paying for that information to exist, that information can not be accurately trusted) and it announced that Rushdie had cancelled his plans to be in Jaipur. I found this odd, but then I discovered the true history of Rushdie.
I can not sum it up as simply or as decisively as it is done so here, so I encourage you to read it. But suffice it say that again, religion has done nothing but prove to me that it brings out the worst in humanity. I’ll stick to my beliefs, without religion, thank you very much.
I applaud Rushdie for his courage and literary genius, and have no doubt that his works will stand the test of time. It is my hope that one day a country like India can free itself from its corruption and perspectives enough to make his works mandatory reading material. And all countries for that matter. But my greater hope for the moment is people share this author’s struggles with religious censorship and persecution as much as they can. The recent attacks against SOPA by the online community show us once again how people in today’s age can come together to keep freedom of expression alive. The internet allows us all to connect and share knowledge in ways we never hoped possible. Silence only allows us to connect and share ignorance.
(all links open in new tabs by the way…I encourage you to read them. And mouseover the Red circle on the page that opens from the “my beliefs” link to get the full experience)