“It feels as if we are living in a moment that is stranger than fiction,” said Salman Rushdie, during his Friday night reading at Midtown Scholar Bookstore.
Spending the evening in the presence of such a renowned author was, indeed, surreal.
“An Evening with Salman Rushdie” was part of the Harrisburg bookstore’s author series, in which notable authors, armed with their recent releases, talk about their work, give a reading, and then answer questions from the audience.
Rushdie awed the packed audience with his talk of “The Golden House” and a reading of its first chapter.
“The Golden House” shares the story of the Golden family: Nero and his three sons, as they attempt to escape from their past and start a new life in New York City. Departing from his usual genre, fantasy, Rushdie’s latest novel is a “realist social panorama” that takes place during the Obama administration.
Drawing inspiration from Dickens, Rushdie reveals a tragic comedy of a family of “larger-than-life characters deeply rooted in the real world” through the eyes of a narrator, Rene, a young filmmaker who is obsessed with the Goldens.
Rushdie didn’t think that the novel would have so many parallels to our time and acknowledged that it’s dangerous writing up against the present moment.
“If you don’t get it right…the book becomes worthless,” he said.
However, Rushdie masters this danger, which gives added suspense to the only novel he’s written that “you could call a mystery.”
After the reading, and before sticking around to personalize copies of “The Golden House” and his other novels, Rushdie answered some questions from the audience. Among them: How does he keep up writing?
He answered that there was nothing else he could do. “Writing is hard,” he acknowledged, but “the challenge of it is what makes it so rewarding.”
“Perfection is a fantasy,” he said. “You try as best you can.”
Even though perfection may be a fantasy, I think that fans who attended the sold-out event would agree that “An Evening with Salman Rushdie” at Midtown Scholar came pretty close.