/ 21 October 1988

SA-bound Rushdie on style

The style of Salman Rushdie, who will open the Weekly Mail Book Week with a keynote address on censorship, has been described variously as “surrealism” or as “magic realism”.

“I subscribe to the modernist belief that there is no longer an agreed definition of the universe or even of society. And where that consensus breaks down, you can’t write a realistic novel anymore,” Rushdie recently told The Independent magazine.

“But realism to me just means arriving at a definition of the world which feels true. And in order to do that you might be required to use the most fantasticated images because we live in fantastic times. “As long as the purpose is not to escape from the world but to capture it, that seems to me to be realism.”

His latest novel, The Satanic Verses, has been short-listed for the Booker Prize which will be announced next week. Rushdie was awarded the Booker in 1981 for Midnight’s Children and the Prix du Meilleur Livre Stranger for his novel Shame.

The book week, which begins on October 31 in Cape Town and on November 7 in Johannesburg, will bring together authors, artists, photographers, academics, play-wrights, poets and publishers to discuss issues including the role of the photographer, the responsibility of the artist, church vs state, the new Afrikaans realists, the remaking of District Six, history and publishing, short stories and the route leading from literary magazines to novels.

In Cape Town, video footage of poet Wally Serote will precede the keynote address, which will be followed by a panel discussion entitled “Censorship: a state of emergency”. Chairman will be Weekly Mail co-editor Anton Harber and panellists will be David Philip, Ampie Coetzee, Hilda Grobler and Mansoor Jaffer.

In Johannesburg, each evening’s programme will be preceded by a short reading by a leading poet. In addition to Rushdie’s address, the launch will feature performance poetry which will be followed by a panel discussion on censorship. The chairman will be Ample Coetzee and those joining the keynote speaker on the panel will be Nadine Gordimer and Mi S’dumo Hlatshwayo.

On Wednesday, November 9 at 2.30 in Johannesburg actor and playwright Gcina Mhlope will tell Myths and Legends of Africa and a shadow play will be presented by Handspring Puppets in a Children’s Indaba for young people from nine to 12. In the chair will be Eve Jammy of Young Reading. Booking for the event, including block bookings is only through the Market.

The venue in Cape Town is the Baxter Concert Hall and in Johannesburg the Market Theatre Warehouse. The Weekly Mail Book Week is also being sponsored by Exclusive Books, the French Embassy and the British Council.

A selection of books will be sold at the event by Pilgrim’s Booksellers in Cape Town and Exclusive Books in Johannesburg.

Booking is at Computicket.