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Archive for April, 2012

On April 17, Rushdie posted a youtube video of “The Ground Beneath Her Feet” by U2 on Facebook, writing: “While we’re on the subject of rock gods (see cover picture above), several years ago U2 recorded this song, with my lyrics… and then Wim Wenders made this video, and somehow I found myself in it… so, here it is again.” The picture he refers to is this one:

Rushdie with U2 – Irish Rock Band Acquires a New Drummer?

Salman Rushdie’s relationship with the famous U2 band member Bono is well documented. In 1993, after being in hiding since the 1989 fatwa, Rushdie walked out on stage with Bono at Wembley Stadium to an audience of 80,000, declaring that “I am not afraid of you. Real devils don’t wear horns.” Later Rushdie sent a draft of his new novel, The Ground Beneath Her Feet, to Bono to make sure that he didn’t get anything wrong about the life of a rock star. Not only did he successfully capture the life of a rock star, he also inspired Bono to write a song based on the lyrics in the novel.  The director of Bono’s film project The Million Dollar Hotel (2000) suggested Bono write a song using the lyrics for the end of the film. Rushdie was reportedly very pleased with the final result, saying it had “some of the most beautiful melodies [Bono] had ever come up with […] So I always knew, you know, that it wasn’t going to be an uptempo foot-tapper, because it’s a sad song. I think it sounds like, I hope, one of those big U2 ballads for which Bono’s voice, actually, is beautifully well suited.”

In that same year (2000), Rushdie published The Ground Beneath Her Feet, a novel about love, fame, and the world’s relationship to music. In the novel, Ormus, the famous rock star in the novel, has lost his love, Vina, to an earthquake, and he pleads, “Maybe in the otherworld she isn’t dead, I’ll have to look for her there” (475). The song he writes for her explores the real and the unreal, a personal and collective idolization of a singer, and a longing that transcends space and time.

All my life, I worshipped her. Her golden voice, her beauty’s beat. How she made us feel, how she made me real, and the ground beneath her feet.

And now I can’t be sure of anything, black is white, and cold is heat;
for what I worshipped stole my love away, it was the ground beneath her feet.

She was my ground, my favorite sound, my country road, my city street, my sky above,
my only love, and the ground beneath my feet.

Go lightly down your darkened way, go lightly underground, 
I’ll be down there in another day, I won’t rest until you’re found.

Let me love you true, let me rescue you, let me lead you to where two roads
meet. O come back above, where there’s only love, and the ground’s beneath
your feet.

In Bono’s adaptation of the lyrics, he is faithful to the text except he omits the line “She was my ground, my favorite sound, my country road, my city street, my sky above, my only love, and the ground beneath my feet.”

The two Facebook posts – the photo and the video – recall the long history between Rushdie and Bono; their politics, their activism, and their fame. By posting these items, Rushdie introduces not only this connection, but also The Ground Beneath Her Feet to a new generation of readers and fans. How exactly is he constructing his own public persona by referring to this relationship? How does it conjure up the political statement made by Rushdie’s public appearance in 1993 on U2’s stage? How is this connected with his own treatment of “rock gods” and celebrity worship in The Ground Beneath Her Feet?

Tawnya Ravy is a PhD candidate at The George Washington University. She is currently writing her dissertation on Salman Rushdie in the 21st Century, and she is the creator of the digital humanities project the Salman Rushdie Archive. She is also one of the founding members and current secretary of the Rushdie International Society. Follow her @litambitions and/or salmanrushdiearchive.com  

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On April 25, it was reportedthat a fellow Rushdie scholar (Prabha Parmar) was denied a post-doctoral Fellowship because her dissertation work included a study of Salman Rushdie’s novels. Muslim Clerics have demanded that the Fellowship be denied on the grounds that the University is supporting research for a banned book. In 1988, The Satanic Verses became a banned book in India following the controversy surrounding its depictions of an Islam-like religion. Since then, the ban has remained a bone of contention between the author and the state of India. Only earlier this year writers protesting Rushdie’s exclusion from the Jaipur Literary Festival attempted to read out passages from the banned novel. Rushdie, of course, is vocal with his disappointment of the continued ban on his book in India. However, as the news articles covering Parmar’s Fellowship point out, there is little evidence that her dissertation would have covered The Satanic Verses in lieu of Rushdie’s other novels (all of which are legal). Furthermore, the ban on The Satanic Verses does not make owning a copy of the book, reading one, or studying one illegal in the eyes of Indian law. Only the import of the book continues to be illegal. It is not clear from the news whether Parmar was going to write about The Satanic Verses or whether she violated other university regulations, but what is interesting about this case is the revival of the debate over the ban on The Satanic Verses. As the above news article relates, Muslim clerics and supporters seem less interested in the legality of the action than in the cultural ramifications of such a study. How many dissertations are there about Rushdie in India? What kind of unique challenges do Rushdie scholars face in South Asian Universities? How does Rushdie stand between his position as an Indian writer (and symbol of pride via Midnight’s Children) and banned author (controversial due to The Satanic Verses)?

Tawnya Ravy is a PhD candidate at The George Washington University. She is currently writing her dissertation on Salman Rushdie in the 21st Century, and she is the creator of the digital humanities project the Salman Rushdie Archive. She is also one of the founding members and current secretary of the Rushdie International Society. Follow her @litambitions and/or salmanrushdiearchive.com  

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In June 2011, Rushdie announced that he would write a TV show called The Next People which will be a sci-fi drama (or a mixture of science and the fantastic). According to the news articles about this development, Rushdie was drawn to the project because of the amount of control he could have over the narrative (as compared with writing a script for a movie), and because he felt the quality of writing for TV would be  “comparable to to the novel as the best way of widely communicating ideas and stories.”

While I am eagerly looking forward to viewing The Next People, I am interested in the meantime about the implications of the article in The Guardian which sparked a debate in the comments about whether or not Rushdie saw TV dramas as superior to novels for “communicating ideas and stories.” It was apparently so heated that Rushdie himself added a comment: “If I may intervene? I did not tell the Observer reporter that I thought TV drama was taking the place of novels. I don’t believe it is. I did say that the best TV drama series were comparable to novels. I’m sorry to have been misquoted. And thanks to everyone above for their generous remarks about my work.” In response to Rushdie’s correction, the article was amended a few days later.

Setting aside the question of whether TV has overtaken novels, what exactly drives Rushdie’s interest in Film and TV, or in his many multimedia projects? How might the audience for The Next People differ from the readers of his novels? Is his experimentation with mixed-media projects a bid for different/new “readers”? Will his distinctive authorial “voice” and “style” translate well onto the screen? Can you think of other examples of “magical realism” in TV series?

Tawnya Ravy is a PhD candidate at The George Washington University. She is currently writing her dissertation on Salman Rushdie in the 21st Century, and she is the creator of the digital humanities project the Salman Rushdie Archive. She is also one of the founding members and current secretary of the Rushdie International Society. Follow her @litambitions and/or salmanrushdiearchive.com  

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Heavy anticipation – this is what surrounds the upcoming release of the film adaptation of Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children. Rushdie recently drum up our appetite with posted film stills showing several of the main characters. In response to this posting, fans of the book are asking how they could possibly adapt such an amazing and complex book for the screen. Although most commentators are pleased with what they see in the stills, they are also anxious about their favorite book in film form. A few things to consider, however, is that the author of the screenplay is Rushdie himself, and the director, Deepa Mehta, is a close friend of the author and a creative genius. I personally recognized all the characters before I read the picture titles, so my feeling is that they are on the right track. What are your thoughts on the upcoming adaptation?

Tawnya Ravy is a PhD candidate at The George Washington University. She is currently writing her dissertation on Salman Rushdie in the 21st Century, and she is the creator of the digital humanities project the Salman Rushdie Archive. She is also one of the founding members and current secretary of the Rushdie International Society. Follow her @litambitions and/or salmanrushdiearchive.com  

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Now available on Salman Rushdie’s Facebook and Twitter pages are links to the cover art and the Publisher’s blurb of his Memoir coming out on September 18, 2012 Check out the cover art and the blurb which gives us a little peak at some of the questions we are all thinking about what will be in the Memoir. It also answers the question some of us may have had looking at the cover art: Who is Joseph Anton and why is he the “author” of Salman Rushdie’s Memoir? Some interesting follow-up questions: What was Rushdie’s rationale for choosing an alias based on those two famous authors? How is he shaping his identity in exile? Why did he choose to use a pseudonym for his Memoir?

Tawnya Ravy is a PhD candidate at The George Washington University. She is currently writing her dissertation on Salman Rushdie in the 21st Century, and she is the creator of the digital humanities project the Salman Rushdie Archive. She is also one of the founding members and current secretary of the Rushdie International Society. Follow her @litambitions and/or salmanrushdiearchive.com  

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Rushdie has recently picked up the posted content on his Facebook page, posting details about his new publication, a Memoir, due out this year (including the cover art), and about the film adaptation of Midnight’s Children (Directed by Deepa Mehta) coming out this Fall. Check out his page to receive updates on your own Facebook wall.

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