Rushdie Speaks (Wash Post Edition)

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The Satantic Verses heretic talks to the Wash Post about his new book, Shalimar the Clown, which sounds pretty interesting. A snippet from the Post story, which talks about the genesis of the new novel :

"Shalimar the Clown" began with a single, grim image that came to him in 1999: a dead man on his daughter's doorstep, the killer standing over him with a knife. He started writing but "couldn't get it right," so he set the book aside and wrote another…

He went back to "Shalimar." He'd conceived it as a narrowly focused story built around the dead man, the daughter and the killer. But after 9/11, he says, he heard his characters speaking to him:

Don't confine us that way, they said. Tell our full stories.

So he did.

He gave them a far bigger canvas, including on it — among many other things — the Nazi occupation of Alsace in World War II, the postwar projection of American power around the globe, the end of the Cold War, the rise of Islamic radicalism and, most centrally, the destruction of a peerlessly beautiful mountain land caught in a politico-religious crossfire.

"The world is now so interpenetrated," Rushdie says, that "to explain a murder in California you have to understand the history of Kashmir."

Whole article here.

Reason interviewed Rushdie for our August-September issue. Check out the Q&A here. Rushdie, like his friend (and Reason's) Christopher Hitchens, strike me as particularly interesting "men of the left" who have spent at least the past fifteen years or so interrogating their beliefs in light of changing historical circumstances. At each point, they were both fairly conventional leftists. While not abandoning many core beliefs, they've clearly nudged closer to a classical liberal perspective–one that acknowledges, even champions, Enlightenment ideas about tolerance and pluralism. As Rushdie put it in Reason:

The First Amendment is one of the great achievements of any democracy anywhere. It jointly supports the freedom of religious belief and the freedom of expression. They are both in the same clause. And it is interesting to see that. Because what it means is that of course people need to be free to believe what they choose to believe but the state is not going to favor any of those beliefs.

More here.