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Salman Rushdie slated for Aspen literary festival

Daily Staff Report
Vail, CO, Colorado
Special to the Daily/Beowulf Sheehan
ALL |

ASPEN ” From June 22 to 26, the Aspen Writers’ Foundation and Explore Booksellers will span the cultures of Aspen and India during the 2008 Aspen Summer Words Literary Festival: “Passage to India.”

Rushdie will headline the 32nd annual celebration, which will honor the contemporary stories and storytellers of India.

The tradition is one of the oldest in the world, dating back to the “Vedas” (circa 1,500 B.C.) and “The Mahabharata” (circa 500 B.C.), one of the longest epic poems in the world.

The group of authors, all of whom write in English, also will delve into the creative process and the contemporary themes of identity and language, gender, caste, diaspora and exile that have been a focal points of Indian fiction.

The weeklong series of events offers readings and panel discussions from the best of India’s literary scene, featuring some of the most dynamic and vibrant prose of the 21st century.

The gathering of Indian writers coincides with the celebration of India’s 60th anniversary of independence.

Salman Rushdie, winner of the 2008 Aspen Prize for Literature, is widely considered to be both the father of contemporary English-language Indian literature and one of the finest living novelists today.

He is the author of “The Satanic Verses,” which won the Whitbread Novel Award and famously led to accusations of blasphemy against Islam and subsequently a fatwa against Rushdie. In self-exile, he continued to write and publish books, including novels, a children’s book, essays, criticism, short stories, theatrical adaptations and a travel narrative.

n addition to Rushdie, the festival will feature seven other speakers with ties to India, including:

– Anita Rau Badami, a best-selling novelist and the author of “Can You Hear the Nightbird Call?” and “The Hero’s Walk,” winner of Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best Book (Canada and the Caribbean).

– Amit Chaudhuri is an award-winning novelist (“A New World” and “Freedom Song”), critic and musician.

– David Davidar is a prize-winning novelist (“The House of Blue Mangoes” and “The Solitude of Emperors”), a founding director of Penguin India and a central publisher of Indian writers.

– Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni is a best-selling author (“The Mistress of Spices” and “The Palace of Illusions”), an award-winning fiction writer and poet and an American Book Award winner.

– Indu Sundaresan is the author of three novels, including “The Feast of Roses,” “The Splendor of Silence” and “The Twentieth Wife,” winner of the Washington State Book Award.

– Manil Suri is the best-selling author of two novels, “The Age of Shiva” and “The Death of Vishnu,” which was a PEN/Faulkner Award nominee; a mathematician; and a Time magazine “Person to Watch.”

– Shashi Tharoor is a prize-winning author of 10 fiction and nonfiction books; a widely published critic, commentator and columnist; and a former under-secretary of the United Nations.

In addition to having the afternoons and evenings centered around the authors, a morning writing retreat offers the choice of intensive five-day workshops or two-day classes to the preregistered participants. Among the writing retreat faculty are author-educators Douglas Bauer, Richard Bausch, Jan Greenberg, William Loizeaux , Sue Miller, Pamela Painter, Robert Pinsky, Nic Pizzolato and Cerena Thomsen. All retreat members also will serve as festival presenters.


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