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Salman Rushdie: still banned, still a ladies’ man

Given that the Man Booker shortlist has just been announced, and talk of the Bookers often brings to mind author Salman Rushdie, it’d be interesting to know what he’s up to these days.

Well, there’s good news and bad news.

The bad news is, as columnist Nilanjana S. Roy notes in India’s Business Standard, Rushdie’s notorious 1988 novel The Satanic Verses is still banned in that country:

How practical is the lifting of the ban on the Verses today? The fear expressed by ministry officials in 1988 was not that the book itself was inflammatory ” it was that passages from the book might be misused by other forces. You might want to ask the Indian state whether it has learned nothing of how to protect itself against these other forces in the last 20 years.

One aim of lifting the ban would be, eventually, to put The Satanic Verses back into stores, and let people make up their own minds on the book ” through indifference, through their interest, through debate or dissent. It is possible that, if a legal action was successful and the ban was lifted, publishers and bookshops would still be wary of publishing or carrying the books.

But overturning the ban would be the first step to doing something we haven’t done so far, that is bigger than any one book or any one author ” protecting our right as Indians to free speech. What happened 21 years ago pushed us in the direction of becoming more fearful, more regressive; and surely two decades is enough time for us to undo this old injustice.

It’s astonishing that this ban still stands. But lest you think Quillblog is all about political ideals and high-mindedness, we have to pass on that there’s some good news in Rushdie-land, according to Britain’s The Daily Mail:

When he is seen in public, a beautiful woman is normally never far away.

And Salman Rushdie’s appearance at the Venice Film Festival was no exception.

The controversial author, 61, was spotted at the opening of the film Francesca with Canadian-born former model Carolann Javicoli.

The pair cosied up around the pool of the exclusive Hotel De Bains at a party after the event and happily posed for pictures.

That would be the married Canadian-born former model Carolann Javicoli. Hey, just because you’ve been sentenced to death by a bellicose theocracy, doesn’t mean you can’t be mackin’.