Saturday, July 29, 2006

Books and Literary Heavyweights on Fire

Apparently there's no leech in Brick Lane anyway. Oh, the joy, the horror of people who judge books without reading them! And oh, the joy and downright terror when two great jesters of English Letters weigh in on the fray: on the pages of the Guardian, the long-standing fight between Salman Rushdie and Germaine Greer is being renewed over the issue. Rushdie accuses Greer of simply supporting the campaigners, but her argument in Monday's article was more characteristically opaque than that. 'It hurts to be misrepresented, but there is no representation without misrepresentation,' she says, seeming to slap the campaigners' hands to make them see sense. But then she concludes: 'Bangaldeshi Britons would be better off not reading Brick Lane or seeing the film.' Really, Germaine? Isn't part of the problem the fact that many of them haven't?

Greer is sneering at Ali, Rushdie says. 'As I well remember,' he writes in his letter today, 'she has done this before,' and reminds us about her refusal to support him over the assult against The Satanic Verses. 'She went on to describe me as a "megalomaniac"', he tells us somewhat unnecessarily, before getting back to focus on Ali and the matter in hand.

There are serious issues here, of course, but what are they? It would be hard now to remain involved in this debate without reading this book. Community activists have confirmed that tomorrow a rally will go ahead and copies of the book will be burned. Yet you can't help but suspect that it's publicity for the book and the film which will be fanned.
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