SALMAN RUSHDIE – ‘Shalimar the Clown’: reception on the Spanish market

Here is an English version of the text posted in Spanish here on my blog on 25-11-05 (my translations).
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31 October 2005 saw the publication by Mondadori (Barcelona) of the Spanish version of Rushdie’s new novel, ‘Shalimar the Clown’ (‘Shalimar, el payaso’), translated as habitually by Miguel Sáenz. This Spanish translation joins the already-published French version.
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The book was reviewed by Jesús Aguado (‘Todos quieren ser otro’ – ‘Everyone wants to be someone else’) in ‘El País’ (section: BABELIA) on 5 November: http://www.elpais.es/articulo/20051105elpbabnar_2/Tes/elpbabnar//
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Jesús Aguado saluted ‘Shalimar’ as Rushdie’s ‘masterpiece’, the best thing he has ever written, thus rating it even higher than the celebrated ‘Midnight’s Children’. He also stressed how this novel marks, in his view, a ‘death-leap’ on Rushdie’s part, his definitive break with the magic realist genre that made him famous. The keynote now is ‘the appeal to clarity, the call of the undisguised real’. Aguado sees Kashmir, the location of the narrative, as a place full of emblematic meaning for today’s world, ‘symbolising the inexorable process of destruction unleashed by the ferocity of incomprehension between civilisations’: Rushdie, he believes, succeeds in exposing ‘the roots of the violence and the fundamentalism of the twentieth century’. The characters of Rushdie’s novel thus serve his purpose of ‘depicting the double-knotted rope which is strangling the world: an East which fights the domination of the West while accepting its tastes and its goods, and a West which forgets that the East is not just a port to unload its products on, but is also and more than anything a physical and mental space for the renewal of its ideas’.
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On 22 November, and also in EL PAÍS, a report appeared (www.elpais.es/articulo/elpporcul/20051122elpepicul_4/ – Xavier Moret: ‘Rushdie defiende la presencia del humor en sus novelas’ – ‘Rushdie defends the presence of humour in his novels’) focusing on the Anglo-Indian writer’s participation in the opening ceremony (21 November, Jaume Fuster library, Barcelona) of the cycle ‘El valor de la palabra’ (‘The value of the word’), which forms part of the Spanish National Book Year. In his speech, Rushdie stressed the impact of globalisation on literature as it is (or should be) written today: ‘Today there’s far more travel, and people are born in one place but end up living on the other side of the world (…) The world has changed enormously, and the most distant places are much more interrelated (…) We need a new way of narrating all this’. While not denying that ‘Shalimar’ finds him a long way from magic realism, he declared that it is still important to read his fiction according to paramters which are not those of traditional or classical reason either: ‘some of us are writers who don’t write by the rules of naturalism’.
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All this promises a most warm reception for Rushdie’s novels in the literary circles of Spain and, no doubt, all the Spanish-speaking world.

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