The Atlanta college gets Salman Rushdie as a writer-in-residence for five years (but will he actually teach?) and his collected papers, for an undisclosed but presumably handsome amount.
It is perfectly true that the collected papers include two unpublished novels, but there is no truth in the rumour that these are the lost, early masterpieces Grimiest: The Collected Dribblings of Snotface and Teatime’s Foetuses.
(I jest, but in truth, one of the unpublished novels was The Book of the Pir.*. Information courtesy the Rushdie Timeline. I was wondering whether the second was Madame Rama, which featured Indira Gandhi as a key character, but The Times says it’s The Antagonist, described as a “Pynchonesque” novel set in London. Call me a coward but I’m backing away rapidly at the thought of ever reading this one.)
* Minor caveat here: the Timeline says that Book of the Pir featured a character from the advertising world called Hal Valance, but it doesn’t mention that the novel wasn’t set in the ad world. Ian Hamilton mentioned in a profile of Rushdie he did for the New Yorker that The Book of the Pir was about a Muslim guru (sic) who is co-opted by the leaders of a military coup in an unnamed Islamic country to become the figurehead President. Sounds good, until you read the bit where Rushdie explains it was written in “sub-Joyce”. I presume Hal Valance (since Rushdie worked in the Bombay ad industry, anyone prepared to speculate about who inspired the Valance character?) popped up in a cameo role.
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