Suspend Your Disbelief

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20 years ago, McEwan offered Rushdie safe haven

Two decades after the fatwa was issued against Salman Rushdie, it’s been revealed that Ian McEwan offered the author a place to hide — a cottage in the Cotswolds — and joined him there for some time.

From the Guardian:

This intimate detail is contained in a long profile of McEwan published in next week’s issue of the New Yorker. Written by an editor at the magazine, Daniel Zalewski, it explores McEwan’s growing commitment to science and rationality as a factor, alongside the Rushdie affair, behind the controversy over Islamic fundamentalism in which he later became embroiled.

The Cotswold encounter came days after the fatwa was issued, when Rushdie was at the start of many years of internal exile. “I’ll never forget – the next morning we got up early,” McEwan tells the New Yorker. “He had to move on. Terrible time for him. We stood at the kitchen counter making toast and coffee, listening to the eight o’clock BBC news. He was standing right by my side and he was the lead item on the news. Hezbollah had put its sagacity and weight behind the project to kill him.”

It’s chilling how many writers’ lives have been–and still are–threatened by religious or political extremists. Xu Lai, a notable novelist, reporter, and blogger known for his “satirical Internet postings” was stabbed on Saturday at a reading in Beijing. Doctors say he’ll survive, but Bullog, the liberal website that sponsored his blog (ProState in Flames), was shut down by the government last month.

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