Finally, I am reading Salam Rushide's master piece, the Satanic Verses. Gotta say I ma loving it, the dude is certainly gifted with the gab and am looking forward to Midnight's Children which apparently effortless shadows this. Such sculpture, such fine! He is wild with it. The section where he describes Saladin Camcha's face is titanic, and before that, where he talks of Gibreel's copulatory escapades, ending with “their forgiveness made possible the deepest and sweetest corruption of all... that he was doing nothing wrong” left me breathless. Anyway, swaying in the world of the book, I was jolted back to reality last night on the Northern Line by a lady who interrupted saying “Sorry to interrupt you, but that book is offensive and should never have been written, should not be read, it is offensive to the Muslim faith, to Prophet Muhammad, Peace Be Upon Him... that's all I wanted to say.”
I was shocked on a number of fronts. This was not a Muslim speaking, she was a white, early to mid 30s woman, blonde streaked brown haired, lil' too much make up if you ask me, red lipstick drawn over the cusp of her top lip, rich cockney accented lady, seething with righteous indignation. After confirming that she wasn't a Muslim, and telling her that I used to be one and did find is too offensive book, I ask her if she had read it...
No. So how do you know it is offensive. Because of what I'v read about it, it offends Islam and the prophet, Peace be upon him. But you have not read the book? ... No Well erm... art is subjective, I watched an interview of Salman Rushdie's and all he wanted to do was write a novel, a work of fiction about two men reincarnated as symbols of heaven and hell, infused with his heritage. People read it, took sections out and loaded it with their own ideas and interpretations of his intentions. Yeah but it should not have been written.
At this point I got a little peeved thinking about Ken Saro Wiwa, Wole Soyinka and the freedom to write. We kept arguing till her stop came, she got off. I wished her a good eve but as the doors closed and the train slipped into the darkness, I got un-peeved...
because of the irony... she was defending Islam, of which the same extremist factions that declared the Fatwa on his head, looks on western women with utter contempt and disgust, and secondly, that a book, a Magical Realist Novel written over 20 years ago still provokes debate.
Here is the interview: