Rushdie's new novel, The Ground Beneath Her Feet, is a work of epic
ambition that fuses myth with rock-and-roll reality
Interview by Peter Kadzis
As a young man, Salman Rushdie considered becoming an actor. But he stayed true
to a more primal ambition and became a writer. Today the world is his stage,
and -- although he may have wished otherwise -- he has become perhaps the most
famous writer in the world. That distinction was thrust upon him 10 years ago,
when the Iranian government placed a bounty -- a fatwa -- on his head after the
publication of his novel The Satanic Verses.
Although some Islamic fundamentalist groups would still like to see him dead,
the Iranian government backed away from its fatwa last fall. In the wake of
that decision, life for Rushdie has become more relaxed, yet hardly casual. He
still travels with armed guards. But even though his movements are still
cloaked in a degree of secrecy, he moves more freely than he has in years.
On St. Valentine's Day, 1989, the last day of her life, the legendary popular
singer Vina Apsara woke sobbing from a dream of human sacrifice in which she
had been the intended victim. Bare-torsoed men resembling the actor Christopher
Plummer had been gripping her by the wrists and ankles. Her body was splayed
out, naked and writhing, over a polished stone bearing the graven image of the
snakebird Quetzalcoatl. The open mouth of the plumed serpent surrounded a dark
hollow scooped out of the stone, and although her own mouth was stretched wide
by her screams the only noise she could hear was the popping of flashbulbs; but
before they could slit her throat, before her lifeblood could bubble into that
terrible cup, she awoke at noon in the city of Guadalajara, Mexico, in an
unfamiliar bed with a half-dead stranger by her side, a naked mestizo male in
his early twenties, identified in the interminable press coverage that followed
the catastrophe as Raúl Páramo, the playboy heir of a well-known
local construction baron, one of whose corporations owned the hotel.
She had been perspiring heavily and the sodden bedsheets stank of the
meaningless misery of the nocturnal encounter. Raúl Páramo was
unconscious, white-lipped, and his body was galvanized, every few moments, by
spasms which Vina recognized as being identical to her own dream writhings.
In recent weeks Rushdie has indeed been on the move, publicizing his most
recent novel, The Ground Beneath Her Feet, which was simultaneously
published in 12 nations -- an act of creative (not to mention commercial)
affirmation that clearly pleases Rushdie.
Even for this most protean of talents, The Ground Beneath Her Feet
is a startling and sprawling novel. To simplify: it is a rock-and-roll
story. To amplify: it is a retelling of the ancient myth of Orpheus and
Eurydice. To sum up: its ambition is epic.
Perhaps the most succinct summary of the story comes from Publishers
Weekly: "Ormus Cama, a supernaturally gifted musician, and his beloved,
Vina Apsara, a half-Indian woman with a soul-thrilling voice, meet in Bombay in
the late '50s, discover rock and roll, and form a band that goes on to become
the world's most popular musical act. Narrator Rai Merchant, their lifelong
friend, is a world-famous photographer and Vina's `back-door man.' Rai tells
the story of their great abiding love (both are named for love gods: Cama as in
Kama Sutra, and Vina for Venus)."
Rushdie's fame as a controversialist is, as he explains below, unwarranted and
unwelcome. Before the publication of The Satanic Verses, he already
enjoyed an international reputation as the man who, said the New York
Times, "redrew the literary map of India" with the publication of his 1981
novel Midnight's Children.
Before Rushdie, the tone of Anglo-Indian literature was decidedly cool. There
was, for example, the sensitive reserve of E.M. Forster and the stiff upper lip
of Rudyard Kipling. Rushdie's prose is more pungent, his range of reference
more polyglot, and his world-view playful to the point of daring.
Although I suspect that Rushdie -- who exhibits a sort of muscular diffidence
-- might shiver at the suggestion, he comes as close as anyone in public life
to matching Hemingway's ideal of courage: grace under pressure.
Q: Let's talk first about growing up in Bombay. In Midnight's
Children, you wrote, if I recall the line correctly, that you were "floating
in the amniotic fluid of the past."
A: The thing to say about the Bombay of the 1950s and the 1960s is that
it was a very different place than the city that now exists. I suppose it's
true that, to a certain extent, there's a kind of golden glow of childhood
about it in my memory. But it's also the case that the people who were of an
older generation thought of that city as going through a particularly beautiful
and sort of memorable phase. It does seem to have been Bombay's great moment.
How to describe it? I mean, as a child, it was a very exciting town to grow up
in. It was a very cosmopolitan town, much more so than most other Indian towns.
Like any great city, it acted as a magnet, and so people came to Bombay from
all over India. It had a greater diversity of Indians than other Indian cities.
And it was the commercial center, so it attracted a large population of
non-Indians. When I grew up, the kids I played with were by no means all Indian
kids. They were American kids, Australian, Japanese, Europeans, and so on. It
felt like a very cosmopolitan, big-city upbringing.
Q: So you were multicultural before your time?
A: Well, we all were. I think this idea of a separation of cultures
between the East and the West was certainly never the idea I grew up with. They
were all mixed in together from the beginning.
Q: Your parents were Muslims. Was your family religious?
A: Not really, as far as I can remember. I think that's one reason why,
although it was technically an Indian-Muslim family, my parents -- at the
independence of India and at the division of India into India and Pakistan --
never considered going to Pakistan. They certainly felt more like Indians than
Muslims. And my father's family was an old Delhi family from the old Muslim
neighborhoods of Old Delhi, and that's where my parents lived when they first
got married. They decided to move to Bombay about nine months before I was
born, I guess. They, like many other people, were nervous about the trouble
that everybody could see coming at the partition. And my father felt that
Bombay would be a safer place. Bombay has always had -- until recently, anyway
-- a reputation of being a more tolerant environment than the rest of India. So
they moved to Bombay to get out of the firing line. When the terrible events of
the partition happened, the riots and the massacres and so on, almost nothing
happened in Bombay. And so they stayed there, and that's where I was born and
More About Salman Rushdie
Q: Can you recall your extended family?
A: I can't remember my father's father, who died before I was born, but
he was, by all accounts, one of my few literary antecedents, in that he was an
essayist and a patron of young writers and so on -- and he also made a fortune,
which my father then spent most of his life losing.
Q: How about your mother's father?
A: Yes, my mother's father I remember very well. He was a huge figure
in my childhood. Unlike my parents, he was really quite a religious man. He was
a practicing Muslim. He said his prayers five times a day. He performed the
pilgrimage to Mecca. But at the same time, he was one of the most tolerant and
open-minded men I've ever known. For myself, my sisters, my many cousins, he
was a huge figure in all our lives because he loved children and was never
happier than when he was amongst us.
Q: How did his wonder manifest itself?
A: I remember -- not when I was a very small child, but when I was more
grown up -- we would needle him by claiming not to believe in God and so on.
You'd say, in your 10- or 11-year-old self, "I don't believe in God, Granddad."
And he'd say, "Oh really? Come and sit down here and tell me all about it." And
so you'd sit down next to him and he would very seriously listen and probe as
you offered your 11-year-old reasons for not believing in God. And then,
instead of contradicting you, he'd say, "Yes, well, that's a lot to think
about, I think you've given me a lot to think about, I'll have to think about
it." And then, a couple of days later, he'd come back and he'd say, "I just did
have a couple of thoughts about what you were saying, and let me just talk to
you about them." And he'd then offer you, in a very gentle way, his rebuttals
to your childish atheism. And when you'd say, "No, no, Granddad, that's just
complete nonsense, it's completely wrong," he'd say, "Yes, well, you're
probably right, but I just think we should go on talking about it." So
certainly, the atmosphere around him was that anything could be said, anything
could be discussed, and that's how we all grew up.
Q: What was the first rock-and-roll record you ever bought?
A: Oh, I think Heartbreak Hotel. It was very difficult in India
in those days to buy rock-and-roll records, because they were not locally
produced. You had to rely on occasional imports and then run to the record shop
when the bush telegraph told you that there were some there. And these were
old-style 78 rpm discs that I'm talking about -- fragile, you know? They
were often damaged in transit or scratched because they were secondhand and
being sold off by somebody whose family was going home. So it wasn't easy to
come by these things. There was a particular record store in Bombay, called
Rhythm House, which used to occasionally have these imports.
Q: Did you listen to rock and roll on the radio?
A: Yes, but not, oddly, on Indian radio, which was state controlled and
didn't permit the playing of Western music. I think in that post-colonial
moment, it was thought to be culturally unsound. Radio Ceylon, as it was then
called -- it's Sri Lanka now -- had a rather more tolerant policy, and, yes, at
the weekends, it would play a few hours of a Western hit-parade kind of
program. That's where we first heard a lot of these songs. But also, because
the city was so international, we had access. I often heard this music in my
friends' houses, listening to their records. It wasn't easy for that music to
arrive, given these constraints. And yet it did arrive, and we all heard. So,
in a way, it became the first globalized cultural phenomenon.
Q: As a former colonial, what was it like going to Rugby and
Cambridge? Was it a tough transition?
A: Rugby was tough. Cambridge I had a very good time at, but coming to
Rugby was really quite brutal. I was not quite 14 and taken aback to be made to
feel like a foreigner, which, until that point, I had never thought of myself
as. I did experience certain amounts of racial discrimination -- not from the
staff, from some of the other boys. And that was shocking and depressing. And
so I remember my school days as not being particularly happy. I was bad at
games. I think it was the triple whammy: foreign, clever, bad at games.
[Laughs] I think if I'd been any two of those three, I might have been
able to get away with it. Foreign, clever, good at games -- that would have
been all right. I mean, there were some boys there with Indian or Pakistani or,
indeed, African backgrounds, but who were excellent sportsmen, and they seemed
to have a perfectly nice time at school.
Q: How was Cambridge different?
A: Well, for a start, there were girls. That helped. But also, I didn't
feel any oppression. I didn't feel any racism aimed toward me. I didn't feel
excluded. And then, also, I was at Cambridge at quite a good time to be young.
I went there in 1965 and graduated in 1968 and, you know, of all the years in
the last 50 years to have been at university, those were probably the years.
Q: Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?
A: I did, really. My parents tell me that when I was 10 years old, I
would say that I wanted to be a writer. Now, obviously, at the age of 10, I
didn't know what that meant. All it meant, I suspect, is that I liked being a
reader and therefore wanted to be a part of that world which made those things
that I liked to read. I did for a time wonder if I might be able to be an
actor. I did a lot of theatricals at university, and some after leaving, and
then decided (a) that I wasn't good enough and (b) that, anyway,
I wanted to write more than I wanted to act. But I still have an unscratched
itch about acting. I think I'd be a better actor now than I was then. So maybe
I can have a late career, like Gore Vidal.
Q: What's your sense of nationality?
A: I was born as an Indian citizen, and the only passports I've ever
held are Indian and British. In England now, there are probably getting on two
million people with Indian or Pakistani origins, either first-generation
immigrants like myself or their children. Indeed, by now, their grandchildren.
And I think in that group, in which I would include myself, the sense of
identity is plural. They're described in Britain as British-Asians, and that's
a description which is completely unproblematic to me. I mean, I think one of
the facts of the contemporary world is that people have plural identities.
African-American, British-Asian: these are perfectly comprehensible terms.
Q: Your work balances alienation and pluralism. Which do you
think is stronger? The impulse toward alienation or toward pluralism?
A: You mean in general?
Q: In general or regarding yourself.
A: Regarding myself, it depends on my mood. [Laughs] But I think
actually there are certain things about me that just inescapably,
100 percent, will always be Indian. That's to say, that's what I racially
and ethnically am. And yet, much of my life has been spent away from India. And
certainly at this moment, having spent a great deal of my life trying to
understand and write about the world from which I came originally, I find
myself turning away from that, feeling that I've done enough, if you like, or
enough for the moment -- and I find myself more and more interested in the
world to which I came, about which I first wrote in The Satanic Verses.
That's the aspect of The Satanic Verses that really got blotted out by
the storm that surrounded that book.
Q: One critic pointed out that The Satanic Verses is a book
in which a novelist named Salman moves not only westward, but also increasingly
inward, searching for yet another way to describe a world that is increasingly
connected, but in no way yet whole.
A: It's not at all a bad description of the way that I felt at the time
that I wrote The Satanic Verses. I felt that I'd written one novel,
broadly speaking, about India [Midnight's Children] and one novel,
broadly speaking, about a kind of version of Pakistan [Shame, published
in 1983], and I thought it was time that my writing made the same movement that
I'd made -- that's to say, migrate into the West. And I felt, first of all,
that I wanted to write a novel about the act of migration and, secondly, a
novel about the internal effect of migration. It's so ridiculous in light of
what happened, but I did think about The Satanic Verses that it was the
least political novel I'd ever written. I thought it was a novel of
introspection and a novel which tried to make sense of the kind of life
experience that people like me had had. And then, boom. It turned into the most
public novel I'd ever written.
Q: In a time when so many people seem to doubt the potency of
literature, did this experience scare you? What was it like to find out that
fiction could matter so much?
A: Well, of course, it was an extraordinary discovery that it should be
my book that ended up mattering so much. Particularly when it was written as an
introspective book, not as a book designed to shake the world. I suppose
Uncle Tom's Cabin was designed to have a certain public impact and did have
it. But in this case, it really caught me unawares. But I do think that, as
somebody once said, you can judge the importance of literature by the apparatus
that tyrants set up to repress it. And the more repressive the society that
exists in the world, the more tightly literature is censored and the more
danger writers are in. I was in the unusual position of living in a free
country and being attacked across the world from a much more censorious and
closed society, but it happens to writers around the world all the time. And in
that sense, what happened to me is not unusual at all.
Q: What did it feel like when you found out that The
Satanic Verses was being burned in England?
A: Well, all I can say is, it was the most shocking moment of my life.
And I think the moment when I actually saw television images and, afterwards,
photographs of my book being burned was the moment that engendered in me the
kind of fury that I can't remember otherwise feeling. This was, after all, a
month before Khomeini imposed the fatwa. And in that month, what I did was to
more or less go on the warpath and try to make sure that this act was seen as
-- I can't think of a word other than barbaric. I also wanted to make sure that
I was fighting this with all my strength. And then, a month later, there was
the escalation from Iran, which changed the argument again.
Q: Artists and performers long for fame. What's your reaction to
being perhaps the most famous writer in the world?
A: Well, I don't know. The main reaction is one of disappointment. It's
a terrible thing to be famous for the wrong thing. I'd always hoped that people
would respond to and like my work, and that's all I'd ever wanted, really -- to
write books that did well and that were well thought of. I'd begun to do that
with Midnight's Children and Shame. It's easy to overlook this
now, but they were books which had quite a considerable international
reputation. The road I was going along was the only life I'd ever wanted, and I
was delighted that I was beginning to have it. And to have this other
reputation hasn't at all been beneficial to me as a writer. I think in many
ways, for people who didn't know my writing or don't know my writing, it's
often been something that put them off because they felt that this dark,
theological cloud that descended over my work must in some way be
representative of the work itself. And, I think, it made them think I must be
an arcane writer, with these dark, theological inclinations. And I think it
made a lot of people less likely to pick up a book by me as well as, of course,
making some people more likely, even if only out of curiosity.
Q: How much energy did it take to keep going in those days?
A: It took a lot. It was terribly bewildering. I had to find my feet
again. I had to learn how to fight back. I had to find the strength to get back
to writing, and I had to then set about the task of going on being a writer in
fairly difficult circumstances. But you discover things about yourself under
extreme pressure, and I guess one of the things I discovered about myself was
that I was able to find that equilibrium again, and I was able to find ways of
fighting back, and I was able to go on with my work. So I guess I'm tougher
than I thought.
Q: Did this experience change your concept of liberty or your
feeling toward freedom?
A: Well, it made me think a lot more about it. I think one of the
things about living in a free society -- which, broadly speaking, I've done all
my life, first in India and then in England -- is that you don't have to
examine the idea of freedom too much because it's simply there. You've got it,
you don't need to make great speeches about it because you already have it, and
it would seem unnecessary to bang on about the importance of free speech when
everybody has free speech. I guess what happened in my case is that somebody
tried to turn off the tap. Somebody tried to deprive me of those basic freedoms
and, as a result, drew my attention to the importance of them -- not just the
importance, but the importance of articulating the case for these fundamental
freedoms. I became much more involved in that battle than I ever had been
before. I mean, one is always asked to sign things. I'd probably sign my share
of petitions on behalf of this or that. But it suddenly became to me, for
obvious reasons, a very central issue of my life, and I think it will remain so
even though the bad days have come to an end.
Q: Why a rock-and-roll novel? You've said rock is a universal, an
A: Yeah, that had something to do with it, but that wasn't the starting
point. I mean, that was one of the valuable things about rock and roll. It
meant that there was a language of cultural reference that I could use which
people all around the world would easily get, just in the same way that people
once might have got a range of classical or mythological reference. Rock is the
mythology of our time. It was interesting to contrast it in the novel with that
older mythology, which now requires more explanation than it used to. I wanted
to write about rock and roll partly because it's the music of my life. When I
was young, it was young. We've more or less grown up and grown old together. It
feels as if rock music is the soundtrack of my life. As if I could associate
all kinds of moments in my life with songs, and songs would evoke memories that
otherwise might have been lost.
Q: Could you sketch that soundtrack?
A: Well, I suppose it starts with Elvis, Little Richard, Jerry Lee
Lewis, Bill Haley -- all that takes me right back to the late 1950s and early
1960s, even before I'd come to England. Many of those songs can evoke moments
of my childhood. Then I came to England at the time when the music was in the
process of transforming into what became the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.
And that music, the music of the Beatles and the Stones and the other bands,
that period seems to have been the background to most of my teenage years. Bob
Dylan was very, very important for me. I remember one of the boys at Rugby, in
the boarding house where I lived, first introducing me to an early Bob Dylan
album. And actually, I have to say, at that time, he made a bigger impression
on me than the Beatles or the Rolling Stones. I'd never heard this noise
before, you know, the nasal intonation, the strange phrasing, the -- oh, you
know, the harmonica, the extraordinary surrealism of his lyrics. And I became a
Dylan fan at that point, and I have never ceased to be one. So yes, it was very
Then what I've always considered to be my political awakening was the
protest against the war in Vietnam, which took place in England because the
British government so strongly supported the American presence in Vietnam, even
though no actual troops were sent. That protest seemed also to be very closely
wrapped up with the music. Traditionally the music of war is there in order to
instill, in soldiers and civilians, patriotic feelings. But this was music
which was much more -- I'd say, much more dissident than that. And music which
was simply affirming love during a time of death.
Q: The Ground Beneath Her Feet, for all its range of reference and
mythological underpinnings, is a very American novel.
A: The country that has mattered the most to me with this book
has been the US. It should be well received here, and I'm happy to say that it
has been, if only because it's my first American novel. I mean, not just
because a lot of it happens in America, but because rock and roll is a thing
that came from America. And so one of the things that I was writing about was
how the rest of the world has responded to American culture, and how America
has responded to the rest of the world. That's one of the kind of -- the
under-themes of this novel.
Q: It seems like a logical step in your westward progression that
we alluded to earlier. If I were to try to boil 575 pages down to a
sentence, it would be this: you can kill the musician, but you can't
kill the music.
A: Yes. I mean, I think of the end of the Orpheus myth, in
which the head of Orpheus, having been torn from his body, is thrown into the
river and goes on singing. That's the meaning of that story. You can destroy
the singer, but you can't stop the song. And I think for fairly obvious
reasons, that's an important thought for me to have and to hold on to. The
durability of art and the paradoxical fragility -- that was the message, that
was the thing that I wanted people to take away from the book.
Q: In Midnight's Children, your hero is born at the
inception of India's independence. The Ground Beneath Her Feet begins on
Valentine's Day 1989, as did your exile. Surely there is a message here?
A: It's really a very simple thing, and what I should say is that, of
all the things in this novel, it was the thing I was most uncertain of. I
vacillated a great deal about whether to leave that date in or not. There was a
bit of me that thought it was digging the reader in the ribs too hard to leave
it in. In the end I did, simply because I thought, well, one of the reasons I'm
writing a novel about cataclysms in people's lives, about earthquakes, about
the fact that the world is provisional and the life that you think is yours can
be removed from you at any moment -- one of the reasons I'm having these ideas
and writing this book is because of what happened in my life, and I may as well
just acknowledge the fact.
Q: Let's talk about twins for a second. Vina Apsara is the surviving
sibling of a dead baby twin, as was Elvis. Is this a coincidence?
A: No, not at all. I think where it comes from in my writing, all this
business with twins, is that I've always been very conscious of the choices
that I didn't make in my life. That's to say, when I left university at the age
of 21 I decided that I would make a life in the West and not back in the East.
And I've always wondered about what would have happened if I'd gone down the
other road. So I've always had this strong sense of the path not traveled, the
road not taken, and of that shadow self, of the person that I might have been
but chose not to become. And that kind of doubling and splitting in myself is
the reason why it keeps happening in my books and is the reason why, in this
novel, the character has a shadow self running down the corridors of his mind.
But I think this time I may have done it. I may have pushed it to the limit
with two sets of twins and, indeed, a twin world, an entirely parallel world as
well as the real world. So I think maybe that's enough twins.
Q: Apsara becomes the inspiration for a posthumous cult. This
reminds me of Princess Diana.
A: Well, in a way it is a coincidence, in that I'd actually devised the
book and, indeed, written an earlier version of what happens after Vina's death
before Princess Diana's accident. It was obviously essential to the idea of the
book that Vina dies -- indeed, she dies in the first sentence, and by this time
she's one of the most popular singers in the world. That she would be much
mourned was obviously always a part of the design, but then the real-life event
happened, which was on a scale so much greater than anything I'd envisaged. It
shocked me because it seemed as if it jumped off my pages into the real world.
It made me think again about what I'd written and actually rewrite it on a
bigger scale, and with a dimension to it that it certainly couldn't have had
without that real-life occurrence. So yes, in the end the book is affected by
what happened, both what happened to Princess Diana and what happened after her
death. But it is one of the most bizarre things about writing this book, that
I'd actually already written it before it happened.
Q: Well, I suppose no more bizarre than our fighting in the name of
ethnic Albanians after the movie Wag the Dog.
A: Yeah, this is true. Well, Wag the Dog does seem to have
become the text of our times.
Q: There's a religious aspect to celebrity culture. Was that part of
its imaginative appeal for you?
A: You don't actually worship the celebrities, you just watch them and
obsess about them.
Q: It's very mythic.
A: I think I'm interested in the way in which we as a culture use
celebrities. In that respect they are quite like the old pantheons of gods,
who, you know, behaved very badly. Ancient gods were not model examples, but
simply instances of human beings enlarged to divine proportions. It was about
how humans might behave if you removed all restraints and gave them great
power. In that sense, celebrity is a kind of recurrence of that theme: we take
this group of people and we shine on them a very bright light and give them, if
not great power, then certainly great influence. We ask how they behave when we
remove all controls and restraints, and we enjoy watching the answer to that
question. Sometimes they behave very well, and sometimes they're destroyed by
Q: Why did you choose to have a photographer as the narrator? And
why is he tone deaf?
A: Well, he can't sing because I can't sing. That's very simple. He's a
photographer because I thought, if you look to the left of a rock star, you'll
find the photographer. And if you want a point-of-view character, a slightly
voyeuristic point-of-view character, it seemed a perfectly appropriate choice
of profession. And then again, mentioning Princess Diana, in the aftermath of
her death, I discovered -- having already chosen a photographer for my narrator
-- that for a moment there, photography became the most unpopular profession in
the world. All photographers, even artists like Richard Avedon, suddenly began
to be thought of as paparazzi, and the profession began to be something that
people scorned. There'd be boos when photographers took cameras out at public
events. And I thought how strange that was, and it made me even more interested
to write about the business of representation, the business of image-making,
about what it is to take a picture of the world, what it is to walk up, walk up
to the world and take its photograph. So it became doubly interesting to me.
And I've always been interested in photography. I'm not particularly a good
photographer, but I've got great heaps of photography books.
Q: You've said, I forget exactly where, that you're proud to have
avoided two traps set by the fatwa -- writing timid novels and writing bitter
ones. How did you manage that?
A: Well, just by great bloody-mindedness. [Laughs] I love
literature. I think of it as a great privilege to be able to do this thing that
I admire so much, the art of the novel. And it just struck me that lots and
lots of writers have had a hard time. I'm not the first one. And many wonderful
books have been made by writers who have gone through or are going through very
bad times. And I just thought I could not use my particular bad time as an
excuse. "Just get on with it and do your work," I thought. So, I've always
gained something -- I've said this before, but I do think it sums my feelings.
If somebody's trying to shut you up, sing louder and, if possible, better. My
experience just made me all the more determined to write the very best books I
could find it in myself to write.
Q: What's next?
A: Wish I knew. I like to find new things to do. And in this book, I
found quite a lot of new things to do, both in terms of rock-and-roll music and
in terms of being able to write about the West in a way that I'd not written
before. And also, I felt that I found a new and very liberating and rich
language to write in. I hope that I just find another new step to take, because
otherwise I'd bore myself.
Q: Could that someday mean moving to America? At least for a
A: Well, I'd like to spend time in America, and I hope -- I hope that I
will spend more time here. I have a two-year-old son, and I'm not sure whether
I want to send him to school in America just yet. It seems to be too many
people getting killed in schools in America just now.
I think certainly my wife would not be very keen on it, on educating a child
over here, but the truth is, I've always loved coming to America. I hope things
are loosening up a bit so that I will be able to spend more and more time here.