Not Enough Bookshelves: An Unexpected Treat

Thursday, 18 November 2010

An Unexpected Treat

Yesterday, a friend called me to say she had an extra ticket to see Salman Rushdie talk about his new book Luka and the Fire of Life and was I interested in coming?

Um, YES!!

So we braved the horror that is traffic on Massachusetts Avenue and headed out, to a truly wonderful event. Salman Rushdie is an engaging speaker, he seemed utterly at home in front of the hundreds of people packed into the Synagogue and was entertaining and interesting. As my friend whispered, he’d make an excellent dinner party guest.

Yes we were quite far up

He told us how Luka and the Fire of Life was written for his younger son, who had asked for a book, because he had written Haroun and the Sea of Stories for his older son. The passages he read from the book were delightful, it seems a wonderful imaginative and magical book.

Below are some highlights of his talk and the Q&A session (from my memory and a couple of notes so not completely word for word accurate)

Mr Rushdie on Books

Man is the only story telling animal. Do porpoises have a purpose, do elephants elefanasize? Man alone burns for books.


Without the world of the imagination the real world would not exist.

Mr Rushdie on the effect of the fatwa 

Haroun and the Sea of Stories was the first book I wrote after the fatwa. And it is my funniest book. So I must conclude that the fatwa was very good for my sense of humour. Also I suddenly became very interested in happy endings.

Mr Rushdie on his writing process

I go from left to right, and from the top of the page to the bottom

and more seriously

I set a daily word count and I write until it is done. Working in advertising for many years taught me not to wait for inspiration. 

Mr Rushdie on writing for children

As someone very famous said (he couldn’t remember who, maybe Philip Pullman) you do not write down to children, you write up to them. A child will not finish a boring book rather they will take Dorothy Parker’s advice and hurl it across the room.

After the reading and the Q&A, we queued up to get our books signed. I just said thank you but my friend (who is brave) asked a question.

Me and Salmen Rushdie

 So my son now has a first edition signed copy of Luka and the Fire of Life. Which he won’t be receiving quite yet due to his tendency to kiss and/or rip pages in books. Plus it has no pictures, I’m sure he’d hurl it across the room.

Note: Salman Rushdie was interviewed by Katy Kay, on the Diane Rehm show today. You can hear it here if you’d like to hear more about the book.


  1. Awesome, Alexa! Sounds like a fabulous lecture/signing.


  2. That is awesome Alexa. I have never been to a book signing. One day hopefully….


  3. What a fantastic experience, you lucky, lucky thing. Thanks so much for sharing it with us so we can attend vicariously!


  4. Kim – It was brilliant

    Nic – They are so much fun. I love them

    Amie – You're welcome and yes i was very luck, especially as it was last minute.


I adore comments, so thanks so much for taking the time. I'll try and return the favour 😀