The Internet really is an extraordinary thing. Yesterday I was trawling through Google’s convenient blog search tool to see what people abroad might be saying about the foreign language versions of my books, when I stumbled upon a page from Portugal describing a riot (well, okay, a demonstration) that had been held outside a bookshop against my book, The Nostradamus Prophecies (Portuguese title, As Profecias de Nostradamus - no snide jokes about the title, please). The write-up about the event, which purported to have taken place on 14.12.09, came complete with a cell phone picture of a group of people holding banners proclaiming that my book shouldn’t be read, and that ‘No Secret Prophecies Exist’. (Well of course they bloody don’t exist, as the book is a work of fiction. Ed.). There was also a large poster of my book (nobly supported by what, at first glance, appeared to be a pair of breasts) with a large red cross struck through it. ’Aha’, thinks I to myself, ‘Salman Rushdie may have upset the Muslims, and Dan Brown may have upset the Catholics, and Stieg Larsson may have upset the Far Right…let’s find out who I’ve upset.’
Thanks to Google’s instant translation (a tad surreal, one has to admit, and containing phrases like ‘They were not burning books, not yelled slogans of censorship..’ and ‘after all is pure poetry of the act to oppose a transgenic literary..’), it appears that I have somehow managed to upset…..well…..ah….the Baptists. About twelve of them, actually. Protesting peacefully at the Nations Park, opposite the mall.
Bloody heck! And here was I thinking that my moment had come, with protests and book burnings breaking out all over Europe, following which my books would lurch into the bestseller lists like drunken sailors, never to reappear. Our intrepid reporter then went on to say that he was ’stunned by the uniqueness of the event’. Well that put paid to any idea I might have had of the protests spreading like wildfire to, well, Paris, say, or Trieste. Instead there were simply ‘Most beautiful expressions of Megaphone against GMOs..’ Genetically Modified Organisms? Is that what they think my book is? Well okay, you may as well read it for yourselves, for I fear I can’t do the thing real justice. http://asfolhasardem.wordpress.com/2009/12/14/e-eram-tao-novos/
Suffice it to say that I am privately very proud indeed of this no doubt first of many manifestations against my oeuvre, and feel that the lack of any actual violence/book burning/rioting, rapine & mayhem etc., should not detract in the least from the significance of such a world-shattering event as this. Salman, eat your heart out…
PS: Since writing my post I have received two excellent and good humoured return comments from the gentleman, Manuel Margarido, who wrote the report on which I based my rather tongue-in-cheek blog - do please read them. They are excellent. I’m very glad indeed to say that Mr Margarido took my skit on the ‘protest’ in good part, and I, in return, apologise to him for the levity of some of my comments, and my naughty use of some of the shortcomings of the Google Translation device. I can only say that when an Englishman gets his teeth into a story that he can turn into a joke, it is very hard indeed to head him off! My thanks go to Mr Margarido for being a good sport. In the circumstances that he describes, I can only applaud his gentlemanly take on the situation.