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salman rushdie and the verses
It is, in a way, unfortunate that Salman Rushdie ever wrote the Satanic Verses, for that one book has served to foreshadow his entire writing career, rather his life for the past fifteen years or so. A long time ago, as I read Midnight's Children in a train on my way home for engineering college I was accosted by a young gent, who somehow guessed I was Muslim and questioned me on the propriety of reading a book by the man who was so passionately hated by most of the Islamic world. Instead of taking sides I merely said I preferred to understand a situation rather than denounce someone on heresy. Midnight's Children was well written, especially the frequent invocation of what is called Bambaiya Hindi, Bombay's own lexicon, a large dose of colloquial Hindi liberally sprinkled with words from Urdu, Gujrati, Marathi, Punjabi and, of course, English. My scholastic responsibilities at the time were sufficiently heavy that the book was read in little bursts and quickly forgotten once finished, it was only last year that I tried reading the Satanic Verses from an HTML version, a format I confess I'm not quite used to, and did not get past the first three chapters. Some weeks ago, while browsing through the shelves of the local public library I chanced upon Haroun and the Sea of Stories, as well as The Satanic Verses and grabbed both, Rushdie was to get a third chance. His writing is like a floor strewn with shards of colored glass, to be tread on carefully, the colors recognizable from the city both of us have called home and grown up in, the glass pieces remanants of ideals shot down my an iconoclast. It is difficult to see how anyone who had a childhood in the city of Bombay would actually dislike what he writes, he seems to have the ethos down pat, perfect, and writes with a rare mastery of language, seemingly flippant but ultimately rather controlled. Haroun and the Sea of Stories is a great children's book, it is also full of references to censorship and a free society, an examination of the good and bad in both, a must read for anyone who enjoys writing that sparkles with imagination. As for the Verses, that's on my plate, waiting.

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