On July 28, Salman Rushdie gave the conference “The novel and the languages of truth” in Guadalajara as part of the events organized by the Mexican city as world book capital during 2022. A few days later, on August 12, it was stabbed in New York when he was preparing to give another lecture. He lost an eye and mobility in one hand. It was the third time that the author of satanic verses He went to the capital of Jalisco. The first was during the FIL in 1995, in the midst of Khomeini’s fatwa, surrounded by all the secrecy in the world and security measures at the height of a death threat. Ten years later, already released —falsely— and with the United Kingdom as the guest country, he filled the mammoth Juan Rulfo Auditorium to inaugurate the prestigious Literary Salon of that year’s fair.
This Sunday Alberto Manguel remembered the Indian novelist during the same ceremony. A thousand enthusiastic people gathered to listen to his dialogue with the most acclaimed author at the start of this fair, Irene Vallejo, who had just triumphed a month ago in Frankfurt. At the same time that Spain was playing against Germany in Qatar, the author of infinity in a reed revealed that he would never have written his successful essay (translated into more than 30 languages) if a friend had not given him Manguel’s masterpiece, which he referred to as “my teacher”: A history of Reading.
The author acknowledged having decided to write her book after reading Manguel’s
An Argentine of Canadian nationality, Manguel grew up in Israel ―his father was a diplomat― his first language was German, he writes in English and lives in Lisbon. The expression citizen of the world seems invented for him. In addition to his book on the evolution of the act of reading, he is the author of a beautiful essay on Homer, a classic turned by Vallejo into a character in his novel The goalkeeper’s whistle ―published before the bestseller juncal― and evoked this Sunday in the most intimate way possible: for years she thought that the Odyssey it had been written by his own father. Why? Because when she was a child, she began to tell him about Ulises’ adventures as if they were a serial: one episode every night.
The fascination for the stories of the elders led her to resist learning to read: for a while she thought that if she recognized her progress in school she would “lose the privilege of reading at night” by her elders. She later understood that not only would she not lose that favor, but she would gain an extraordinary power feared by all her powers. The politicians and the religious. Manguel insisted on it. She then uttered two words that everyone understood without the need for further explanation: Salman Rushdie.
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