Today, Pen America in association with Penguin Random House held its #StandWithSalman event at the New York Public Library. If you didn’t get a chance to watch it, check out the YouTube:
I first encountered Haroun and the Sea of Stories at What The Book in Seoul, Korea. I happily bought the book and then promptly did not read it. Like so many stories, it landed on my TBR, and then moved to a shelf, which later moved to another country. And, well, as you can imagine, Haroun has had quite a journey.
After the attack last week, I decided to download the book on Audible. It’s a brief audiobook at only 5 hrs. Read by Neil Shah, Haroun and the Sea of Stories is really quite a delightful tale. Written during Rushdie’s time in hiding, technically, it’s a children’s book classified under fairy tales by the NYPL.
But, in truth, Haroun and the Sea of Stories is much more than that. For Haroun goes on a quest to help his father The Shah of Blah recover his gift of gab and his art of storytelling. The book features many characters that evoke books and free speech (Bolo and Kitab among them).
Of course things go as one expects. There are dangers along the way, a damsel in distress, much magic, and even a moon that is a story in and of itself. But don’t worry! All ends well.
This is no place for me to wax poetic on the freedom to write.
Others can say what I feel with more eloquence than I can manage right now. Read their words instead:
As part of their event, Pen America encouraged those who could not be in New York today to submit our own readings.
This reading from Haroun and the Sea of Stories is from chapter 10, Haroun’s Wish. The speaker who opens the excerpt is Khattam-Shud, whose name means “completely finished or over and done with” according to the book’s glossary.
The image is from the Penguin Random House hardcover 2014 edition illustrated by Jessica Hische. It’s part of the Penguin Drop Cap Series, which chose 26 letters to represent fiction classics.
R is for Rushdie.
May Mr. Rushdie heal quickly and continue to bring us such wonderful stories.