Rushdie at Harvard

by Devanshu Mehta

Rushdie at HarvardSalman Rushdie was at the Memorial Church at Harvard last night, for a reading organized by the Harvard Book Store. He read from his newest novel “The Enchantress of Florence” (which I had him sign) but I had another agenda. I got my father’s 20-year-old copy of Midnight’s Children signed, the copy (and father) that introduced me to Rushdie.

Rushdie was everything his novels indicated he might be- frighteningly smart, witty and with an uncanny ability to keep an audience surprised and entertained.

The new novel sounds fascinating, with a classical mix of history, fantasy and Rushdie. It is one of those what-ifs that every student of history has when they look at ancient contemporaries and wonder if they had ever met. (What if Picasso met Einstein in Paris in 1904?). What if the Mughal Emperor Akbar in India had contact with rennaissance Europe, asks Rushdie. In his words, the unbelievable stuff in his book is true; the believable is what he made up.

(An exercise for the reader: one of the people in the picture is Rushdie and one is me. And the purple book is my wrinkled old Midnight’s Children.)