The writer’s revenge

V.S. Naipaul. Photo: Rajeev Bhatt  

Salman Rushdie has reignited his long-running feud with V.S. Naipaul who once famously said he didn’t know who Rushdie was and had never read him. “I don't know who you are talking about, I really don’t know at all,” Naipaul told a British interviewer when asked about Rushdie.

In his recently released memoir, Joseph Anton, Rushdie recounts a conversation he had with his American publisher of Midnight’s Children in New York days after it was released in the US. Bob (Robert) Gottlieb, who was then the head of publishing at Alfred A. Knopf, told him that he had been reluctant to meet him.

“Now that I know I like you, I can tell you that I thought I wasn’t going to,” Gottlieb said.

“Why?” asked a shocked Rushdie. “Didn’t you like my book? I mean you published my book…”

“Bob shook his head,” Rushdie recalls, and said: “It wasn’t because of your book. But I recently read a very great book by a very great writer and... I thought I wouldn’t be able to like anyone with a Muslim background.”

“What was this great book?” he asked Gottlieb, “and who is this very great writer?”

“The book,” said Gottlieb, “is called Among the Believers and the author is V.S. Naipaul.”

“That,” Rushdie retorted, “is a book I definitely want to read.”

The subtext: I don’t know who you are talking about it, I haven’t read him.

So, it is quits then?

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Printable version | Jun 16, 2021 12:35:01 AM |

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