Twenty years ago, the image of burning copies of Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses held aloft by thousand-strong mobs of protestors became an internationally familiar symbol of anger and offence. Kenan Malik examines how the Rushdie affair transformed the debate worldwide on multiculturalism, tolerance, and free speech, helped fuel the rise of radical Islam and pointed the way to the horrors of 9/11 and 7/7.
"Malik’s big idea is that multiculturalism – by which he means organised ethnic interest groups – has led to a culture of grievance which renders 'secular and progressive arguments less sayable'. The word 'multiculturalism' stirs outrage as reliably as stories about straight bananas in Europe. The fact that an investigation into its history ends with the Birmingham Chinese Society should give us pause for thought. One legacy of the Rushdie affair is that it has revived debate over the future of multi-ethnic, multi-faith states. Those who believe that pluralist nations end in disaster do not need straw men like 'multiculti' to disguise their views. Why allow them to duck the debate so easily?"
--Nicholas Blincoe, Daily Telegraph
©2009 Kenan Malik (P)2010 Audible Ltd
"A gripping account of how we went from burning books to bombs on buses. The Rushdie Affair has shaped all our lives. This book shows us how." (Hanif Kureishi)
"A thorough and highly readable history of the politics of the Rushdie affair and an important intervention in the current debate on freedom of expression." (Monica Ali)
No, I would buy the text version and read it. The book itself is excellent so far (I am about half way through), but the narrator uses highly exaggerated and often sarcastic tones, particularly when others are being quoted, which gives the audio book an annoyingly cartoon-ish quality which is entirely out of sync with the subject matter.
Islam and the Myth of Confrontation by Fred Halliday, an excellent work which tears down Huntington's mind numbingly shallow 'clash of civilizations' thesis.
"Be careful what you campaign for"
This is a well-researched, intelligent history of the changing attitudes to race and religion in the UK and the wider world over the last sixty years. Malik clearly describes the series of events, explains their links and significance, and quotes a variety of sources and interviews enabling the listener to understand the many relevant viewpoints.
Although the book is complicated, Malik presents his case clearly and this is not some dry history of names and dates, but an engaging tale to which I enjoyed listening. So enjoyed, in fact, that I now have a shortlist of other quoted books and authors to search out.
My only criticism would be that the narrator, while he did a good job of the many voices and accents, did occasionally stumble over phrases and perhaps could have been allowed to re-record these passages?
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