Salman Rushdie takes us on a fantastical journey as he promotes his latest novel ‘Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights’

11th October 2015


Author Salman Rushdie, 68, has penned esteemed works like The Satanic Verses, The Enchantress of Florence, & Midnight’s Children. He’s won the Man Booker Prize for Fiction, the James Joyce Award, the PEN Pinter Prize, the Prix du Meilleur Livre Étranger and a whole host of other honors. Tonight he is in town to promote his latest novel, this year’s Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights.

His latest offering is a mesmerizing modern tale about worlds dangerously colliding, the monsters that are unleashed when reason recedes, and a beautiful testament to the power of love and humanity in chaotic times.

Combing characters inspired by historical people, allegorical tales and magical realism its an ambitious project that “seems to be getting a great reaction thus far” he happily informs us.

“I was thinking maybe I’d just copied I Dream of Genie,” he confesses in his frank and funny style that conveys a true humility, rarely present in similarly successful virtuosos.

There is no need for long-winded sentences simply to exhibit his acknowledged intellect, or even the oft-associated baggage of haughtiness that can come when success becomes a given.

Indeed Rushdie seems to be enjoying the cooling of the fatwa that had previously blighted his life.

Now living in New York, the central setting for his current novel, he seems to be enjoying writing more than ever. “I enjoyed this process as much as any of my previous books”.

A fantastical tale at heart, Rushdie smiles as he compares German (Grim fairy tales) & British folk tales, before reflecting on which he prefers. His conclusion leans favourably with the Germans – “German fairy tales are set in the deep dark forest where anything is possible, whereas in British tales fairies are small and twee”.

Regardless of who has the best imps, perhaps the biggest thing to takeaway here is the dry wit with which Rushdie sees the world. Bawdy jokes about “stimulating sessions” with famous filmmakers give way to anecdotes about munchkins from the Wizard of Oz sending him authentic Disney death certificates from Florida retirement homes. Its all as surreal as the book but emphasises that his strength lies in his quirkiness as much his intellect.

To get a copy of Salman Rushdie’s book click here, or to find out more about the Festival of Ideas click here.

Kevin McGough