Feature

Why Salman Rushdie might sue over a book

Are the claims by a security officer that guarded Rushdie true?

What happenedThe publisher of a book that Salman Rushdie claims paints him in a negative light is delaying publication for a week following Rushdie’s threat to sue. On Her Majesty’s Service by Ron Evans, one of the security guards assigned to protect Rushdie during the fatwa against him for his book The Satanic Verses, claims that Rushdie charged guards money to stay at his house and drink his wine, and that the guards once locked Rushdie in a cupboard because he was annoying them. Rushdie refutes the claims. (Guardian)

What the commentators saidRushdie has been a “crusader against censorship,” said journalist Farrukh Khan Pitafi on his website, but now he “wants a minor work to be censored”? This is sad. Especially since all Evans did was commit the “minor blasphemy” of portraying Rushdie “as a mere mortal with some mortal lapses.”

What makes Rushdie’s threat even more hypocritical, said Tim Footman in a Guardian blog, is that his “whole career has been based on the artful renegotiation of the distinction between fact and fiction, history and fantasy”—take the “magic realism of Midnight’s Children,” for instance. Still, you have to feel for Rushdie—books “have provided his fame and fortune, but they’ve also given him more than his share of grief.”

But Rushdie kind of asks for it, said the blog BookFox, so it’s not surprising that he’s once again “pure fodder for paparazzi.” In the past, Rushdie has participated in “literary squabbles,” fought the fatwa, engaged in arguments over “book-signing records,” and schmoozed “around the world looking for a fifth wife.” Now he’s suing a security guard—it’s getting a little hard to take Rushdie seriously.

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