Who is Salman Rushdie calling a Grumpy Old B*****d?
Salman Rushdie, that perennial enfant terrible of the Indian English literary establishment, has never been known to hold back on opinions. This time, he’s taken on someone who can often sound equally eccentric (er, sorry, individualistic), this year’s Jnanpith Award winner, the Marathi writer Bhalchandra Nemade.
Grumpy old bastard. Just take your prize and say thank you nicely. I doubt you've even read the work you attack. http://t.co/TavuYkxe2u
— Salman Rushdie (@SalmanRushdie) February 6, 2015
While almost everyone is familiar with Rushdie’s name, few people outside Maharashtra will know as much about his formidable opponent. Nemade, a distinguished academic, is the author of several pathbreaking Marathi novels, and won the Jnanpith Award for a book called ‘Hindu: Jagnyache Samruddha Adagal’ (‘Hindu: The Bountiful Clutter of Living’). He is known to be a proponent of the theory of deshivaad, or nativism, that favours all things indigenous over cultural imports. His views, particularly his ideas on the use of English, whether as an Indian lingua franca or as a medium of education in India, have been rather controversial. Here is a word byte from his most recent speech;
And, here he is, at the end of the same speech, making what may be read as a limited concession to the Queen’s language:
At a felicitation arranged by the Matrubhasha Samvardhan Sabha in Mumbai soon after the Jnanpith Award was announced, Nemade, as is his wont, critiqued Indian writing in English, hitting out in particular at Rushdie and at V.S.Naipaul. Possibly, Nemade was tailoring his comments to his listeners at the event, and the name of the organization makes the composition of his audience clear enough. Among other remarks, however, he made the rather startling announcement that Rushdie hasn’t written anything worth reading since Midnight’s Children. Remember, Midnight’s Children was published way back in 1981, and was followed by several works that won Rushdie international stature – and, on occasion, notoriety – including Shame, The Satanic Verses, The Moor’s Last Sigh, and The Ground Beneath Her Feet. So Nemade’s comment does seem uncalled for. And Rushdie’s knee jerk reaction, is characteristically unsparing.
Here are some Twitter reactions to Rushdie’s use of the B-word:
— MASH (@man_bhr) February 7, 2015
— Hatuey (@AgentSaffron) February 7, 2015
— Baba Manhattani (@BabaGlocal) February 7, 2015
— Tweetr Ninja (@TweetrNinja) February 7, 2015
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