Javier Cercas: “Protecting Salman Rushdie is protecting civilization” | Culture | EUROtoday

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Neither puritans nor fanatics have a humorousness. Salman Rushdie (Bombay, 77 years previous) is aware of this effectively, as Javier Cercas recalled this morning on the Ateneo de Madrid. At 9:30 within the morning, the seats within the auditorium had been full and the viewers included everybody from the Minister of the Interior to the US ambassador to Spain; additionally authors equivalent to Juan Gabriel Vásquez, Alma Guillermoprieto or Mónica Ojeda. On stage Cercas, Rushdie and journalist Montserrat Domínguez, content material director of Cadena SER, to speak about Knife, the e book that the author born in India and nationalized as British and American publishes in Spanish. This is the first-person account of the assault that he suffered in August 2022 by the hands of a younger radical Islamist, greater than 30 years after Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa towards the writer of satanic verses.

Rushdie was on stage in 2022 to take part in a chat when his would-be murderer attacked him and stabbed him 15 instances. He misplaced a watch and spent nearly a 12 months hospitalized, however the writer of midnight youngsters He will get on stage once more to speak about literature. “We must protect Rushdie at all costs. Protecting Rushdie is protecting joy, the rose, the will to live. Protecting Rushdie is protecting civilization,” emphasised Cercas, recalling a writing of his concerning the writer. “Knife It is not a minor book, it is an act of revenge and alchemy because it transforms evil into beauty. “Literature is useful whenever it does not intend to,” stated the Spanish novelist. “There is a huge misunderstanding about Rushdie because many think that he is a serious and solemn writer and that is why he has been a victim of fanaticism. But he is a comedian like Cervantes, he is extremely funny and that is why fans hate him.” Rushdie added that his e book was born from a horrible act of violence, nevertheless it has humor, he didn’t wish to be didactic or heavy.

One of the issues he took away from the assault was a stronger connection together with his physique: “If you are a writer you are less connected to your body than, say, an athlete. I have now gone through 1,001 doctors and this emphasis on the physical is a change. In a hospital everyone is very careful that you go to the bathroom regularly, for example, something that is very strange if you are used to having a certain amount of privacy, that is lost. There is something absurd, as if you became The rhinoceros, Ionesco's work,” he stated, displaying off his advantageous humor.

Salman Rushdie Knife Cover

Asked concerning the assault itself, he spoke of what he felt when he was stabbed, of how he heard an interior voice that advised him: “don't die.” He by no means misplaced consciousness till he was sedated on the hospital. “Maybe we all have that survival instinct that we don't know is there until we need it,” he stated. “I discovered that I am tougher than I thought, that I have a resistance that I did not know.”

Since the Iranian Ayatollah recognized him as an enemy to annihilate in 1989, Rushdie has skilled completely different phases. After a number of years tightly protected within the United Kingdom, he settled in New York. “There in 25 years I never felt that he had an iota of danger. He had ended the threat of state terrorism,” he recalled. “I don't want to seem heroic, I am a world expert in security and there are two different concepts: danger and risk. “I started my life again, because it wasn't so risky.”

Cercas recalled a protracted dinner with Rushdie in France, and the way he questioned concerning the safety measures, till he realized that within the restaurant solely his desk was occupied, the place they prolonged the after-dinner meal. “Yes, Javier, but I have never drunk gin & tonicsino vodka tonic“Rushdie corrected him. Regarding his relationship with literature in Spanish, he spoke about Cervantes and the authors of the bum that he published a paperback stamp when he was a student — “I was able to read Cortázar, Asturias, Manuel Puig” —. Later, Gabriel García Márquez arrived, extremely really helpful by a good friend. “A hundred years? Of loneliness? “Do you really think I'll have a good time with this?” he said he told that friend. He found an echo in that novel that he recognized in his childhood experiences in India and Pakistan, although “García Márquez privileges the vision of the people and I come from a big city, my writing is from the metropolis.”

Literature, books, cannot change the world and their influence is very limited. “It's very unusual for a book to change something in the world, maybe Jane Fonda did it,” Rushdie joked. “The question is how to deal with atrocities. If you look at them head-on in your writing it can be too horrible and if you avoid it it is a trick. You have to find an angle,” reflected the author of Knife. Cercas then spoke of the power of novels to influence a reader, one by one, and defended that literature can change the way we look at the world. “We live in the era of lies, with Putin saying that Ukrainians are Nazis and Trump that the 2020 elections were fraudulent. “Many people end up swallowing these falsehoods,” Rushdie warned.

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