I wish I hadn’t listened to Rushdie: Writer William Dalrymple


Writer William Dalrymple recounts the difficulties he faced over the years in Jaipur lit fest at BLF.

Dalrymple bristled at a question put to him asking if the controversies at JLF had been planted by the organisers themselves to gain attention. In fact, they had done their best to avoid controversy last year by leaving out Salman Rushdie’s name from the schedule of speakers for the festival. But Rushdie would have none of that: “I don’t want to be like a white rabbit coming out a hat. So put out my name in the list,” he told Dalrymple. 

To this day Dalrymple regrets going along with Rushdie, because as soon as the JLF invites went out with Rushdie’s name, all kinds of groups found it a convenient handle to exploit for their own ends. Ultimately, they had to ban the Rushdie session, which was a double whammy – it was perceived as a copout while at the same time the JLF lost out on the Rushdie appeal, which had been an important factor in the festival becoming a noteworthy event.

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