Newspaper article International New York Times

A Conversation with Salman Rushdie

Newspaper article International New York Times

A Conversation with Salman Rushdie

Article excerpt

The author, most recently, of "Two Years Eight Months and Twenty- Eight Nights" says that more or less everything by Christopher Hitchens makes him laugh: "The laughter is what I miss most about the Hitch."

Salman Rushdie

The author, most recently, of "Two Years Eight Months and Twenty- Eight Nights" says that more or less everything by Christopher Hitchens makes him laugh: "The laughter is what I miss most about the Hitch."

Q. What books are on your night stand?

A."Between the World and Me," by Ta-Nehisi Coates, which I just finished and which impressed me; "Genghis Khan," by Jack Weatherford, which is next up; "The White Album," by Joan Didion, which is great to rediscover, and as good as I remembered it being; "The Heart of a Goof," by P.G. Wodehouse, which can actually make me care about the game of golf, at least while reading it; and "Humboldt's Gift," by Saul Bellow, which seems to be on the night stand more or less permanently.

Q. Who is your favorite novelist of all time?

"Of all time" is a long time. There are days when it's Kafka, in whose world we all live; others when it's Dickens, for the sheer fecundity of his imagination and the beauty of his prose. But it's probably Joyce on more days than anyone else.

Q. When you were in hiding under the fatwa, were there particular books that you sought out or that helped you through?

Well, for obvious reasons, I did get hold of the Enlightenment writers. Voltaire's "Candide," Diderot's "Jacques the Fatalist," Rousseau's "Confessions." Also John Stuart Mill's "On Liberty." But I also did a bit of book reviewing to keep my hand in. I remember liking Philip Roth's "The Facts" and not much liking Kurt Vonnegut's "Hocus Pocus," for which he never forgave me, which saddened me because I admired so many of his other books.

Q. What's the last book that made you laugh?

A.P.G. Wodehouse's "Code of the Woosters," which also contains the speech which Christopher Hitchens (and I) believed to be the greatest anti-Nazi diatribe in English literature:

"The trouble with you, Spode, is that just because you have succeeded in inducing a handful of half-wits to disfigure the London scene by going about in black shorts, you think you're someone. …

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