It's happening again - people threatening to burn copies of a book, this time Monica Ali's Brick Lane. So what does it mean? That books matter? I wonder. In fact, it's only now that a film comes to made of the book that the protest has taken off and the threat made. 'If [Monica Ali] has the right to freedom of speech,' says Abdus Salique, the lead campaigner, 'we have the right to burn books.' Hm. 'We are protecting our community's dignity and respect,' he says, and what, asks Mohammed Tahir Ali, a trustee of Shadwell Garden Mosque, will the episode in the book, where he says a leech drops from a Bangladeshi woman's hair into a Brick Lane restaurant curry pot, 'do to our businesses?'
Nothing, Mr Ali, as far as I'm concerned. I never got past the very good beginning of Brick Lane, after which I thought it deteriorated rapidly (so I'd never have known about the leech), and far too many of my acquaintances were put off from even trying by the media hype surrounding publication. Besides, we like our curries too damn much.