The Vermont Cynic

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An award-winning novelist posed a question for the UVM community: what’s the use of stories that aren’t even true?

Salman Rushdie answered this question during his lecture in the Ira Allen Chapel Jan. 14.

“The magic in fiction reminds us of the importance and significance of truths,” Rushdie said.

In his lecture, Rushdie presented his book titled “Haroun and the Sea of Stories.”

Rushdie described how the book was written with one audience member in mind, his 10-year-old son.

He wrote the novel after his son asked, “why don’t you ever write anything I would like to read,” Rushdie said.

The main character’s name, Haroun, came from Rushdie’s son’s middle name, he said.

Rushdie wanted to write a book his son could read twice in his life; once as a boy and again as a young adult, he said.

Rushdie said the book includes multiple themes in order to change the book’s message so his son could enjoy it at two periods of his life.

Rushdie’s normal style is heavy on religion and historical fiction with examples including “The Satanic Verses” and “The Midnight’s Children.”

“I thought it was really cool hearing how ‘The Sea Stories’ came from when [Rushdie] would tell his son bath-time stories,” junior Hannah Peters said.

“Haroun and the Sea of Stories” was a 2015 Vermont Reads Book, a statewide community reading program from the Vermont Humanities Council, according to the council’s website.

It was also part of the First Wednesdays program, professor Major Jackson said.

In this program, nine libraries across Vermont each host a humanities lecture on the first Wednesday of each month, Jackson said.

“It was really cool to see Salman Rushdie at UVM,” senior Austin Dziki said.

Rushdie’s lecture was part of Essex Junction’s Brownell Library’s presentation.

Rushdie was born in Bombay (now Mumbai), India in 1947, according to the British Council Literature website.

He is the author of 11 books and was awarded the Booker Prize in 1981, according to his website.

The author is also the recipient of numerous other awards including two Whitbread Prizes for Best Novel, a Writers’ Guild Award, the James Tait Black Prize and the European Union’s Aristeion Prize for Literature, according to his website.

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Author shares with UVM