“[It] may be all right to utter the worst obscenities on prime-time television, but it is no longer acceptable in British broadcasting to make fun of anyone’s religion or any religious figure. If one takes a hard look at this, one is obliged to acknowledge that, while Salman Rushdie may now be free to walk around in Bombay avoiding hostile mud-facials, all those evil, power-hungry mullahs and murderous “community leaders” who led the campaign against The Satanic Verses may have won substantially after all.

And, of course, their victory isn’t confined to the British Isles.

For, piggy-backing on that ground-breaking campaign, you have jumped-up little fascists the world over trying out all sorts of cultural land-grab.” Ruchir Joshi is in form, people.

The outsourcing thing just moved a step closer to home. Bertelsmann is taking a hard look at Indian publishing.

“Reader’s evaluation: Although it displays a solid vocabulary, Mr. Hemingway’s essay lacks specific examples and clear topic sentences. Too undeveloped to be good. Grade: 3 out of 6.” Mr Shakespeare and Ms Stein didn’t fare any better when The Atlantic decided to see how they’d do on SAT scores. You can help rewrite Shakespeare–enter the Princeton Review contest here.

We’re going to turn this slot into a regular feature, headlined ‘He/ She Got How Much?” Plot summary: “His hero, Tom Ripple, is an insignificant cog in an import/ export company. Married in the early 1970s to an ideologically-minded social worker, he lives near the North Circular road in London and has a paedophile neighbour. His son grows up gay, but marries. The tale ends with the 2000 millennium celebrations.” Coda: And Charles Chadwick lived happily ever after with the mandatory huge advance that is now being used to hype It’s All Right Now.

Doctor Zhivago returns to Russia, after being out in the cold for 30 years. After a dismal season of book bans in India, it’s kind of nice to be able to report the lifting-of-the-ban story for a change.

“These writers who are big followers of the patriarchal system are furious that a woman wrote about sex, they find it very unusual. They think only men can write about women?s bodies and about women…?? Taslima Nasreen is in Delhi. And she’s furious. And because the Indian state doesn’t at the bottom of its dry little heart believe in freedom of speech and writer’s rights, you can’t buy her book at the ongoing Delhi Book Fair–it’s been banned from the fair, even though it isn’t officially banned from the capital. How much sense does that make?

McSweeney’s wants your Weird Short Stories. (Personal: This means you, Mag, Indy, Avtar and a certain author who included my name in his list of dedications.)

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