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Rushdie in Conversation


The Times carries a longish conversation between Salman Rushdie and Ginny Dougary. Dougary obviously likes Rushdie a lot – and perhaps because of this Rushdie sounds a lot more relaxed, and talks in his usual freewheeling manner about a whole lot of things. It's the most “human” Rushdie interview I've come across, his usual sharp candor tinged with humor and graciousness.

He doesn't care to use the word “brainwashing” for what goes on in the terrorist training camps and the madrassas, saying it's too loaded. But in the novel he shows, most feelingly, how you can persuade people that they have been seeing the world wrong, and that the world is not like that – the world is like this, and you must unlearn everything you have learnt in order to understand the truth.

Rushdie says he is embarrassed about Grimus ([…] I want to hide when I see someone reading it), and explains his petulant Booker acceptance speech as his reaction to the “cruelty” of people that “asked him to find a different form of employment” forgetting that it was his first book. And then adds philosophically, “I guess, with hindsight, you shouldn't ever try to get even because you always lose.”