Salman Rushdie: Courts in America worth praising

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Salman Rushdie at the Indo-American Arts Council 20th anniversary gala, in New York City, on May 6. Photo: Peter Ferreira.

NEW YORK – Salman Rushdie, arguably the greatest and most illustrious Indian-origin novelist of all time, was a guest at the 20th anniversary celebration gala of the Indo-American Arts Council, held on board the Cornucopia Majesty yacht, in New York City, on May 6.

Rushdie’s critically acclaimed novel ‘The Golden House’, his 13th novel, published by Random House in September, will be out in paperback in a few weeks.

In an exclusive interview to News India Times, at the gala, Rushdie broached on, among other subjects, President Donald Trump’s travel ban on some Muslim majority countries, and how he sets off on a novel.

Excerpts from the interview:

What do you have to say about President Donald Trump’s stance on Muslims?

Well, I have always been critical of Mr. Trump. I have nothing to say in favor of him. I disapprove more or less of everything he’s done.

The travel ban on some Muslim-majority countries must have rankled you?

It remains to be seen if the travel ban will survive the courts. I think the courts in America have been worth praising; they maintain certain principles which the administration has been abandoning. Of course, the travel ban is an absurdity and I hope it will fail.

Have you ever been body searched at an airport because of your religion?

No, at least not till now. But there’s always chance (of that happening). I go through the usual security clearance, but I guess I’ve been lucky.

As a writer, what do you feel about egregious trampling of people’s civil rights in America?

There is a worrying tradition right now. This is an administration like I have never seen before, that is trying to erode people’s rights. And it’s very important to stand up against it.

Will you write about it?

I write about it. I speak about it.

(Left to right): Film director Mira Nair, the founder and Executive Director, the Indo-American Arts Council, Aroon Shivdasani, and Salman Rushdie, at the gala, on May 6. Photo: Peter Ferreira.

Will you write a novel making these issues as the focal point, and not just on the sidelines?

The point of being a fiction writer is that it takes a very long time to do (a book). So with original subjects it’s more important to be immediate. And the novel is not an immediate thing. So my view is that if you want to make interventions which are political, then this is a better way of doing it (talking about it).

Talk a little about your writing method. Where does inspiration come from? Does it come on some fine day, you then think about it, develop it?

No. You just have to sit there and work every day. And then eventually it shows up. It has no light bulb moment.

Are you working on a new novel?

Yes, I’m working on something right now. There are two-three movie projects in the pipeline, but I can’t tell you as yet because the deal is not yet done.

Is the work you have started on, a new novel?

Yes, I’m working on a new novel. In the meantime, ‘The Golden House’, which came out in September, is coming out in paperback in a few weeks.