RUSHDIE: LET DEMOCRACY REIGN
Salman Rushdie, who recently won the Best of the Booker prize through online and text voting, says he now believes all literary contests should be determined by public voting. "It has worked well for American Idol," he said. "I don't see why it shouldn't work for the Booker and Pulitzer prizes. We need to accept that we live in an increasingly democratic world, filled with people who know fine literature when they see it."
Rushdie's novel "Midnight's Children" beat five other shortlisted books, all former Booker winners, by garnering 36 percent of the votes cast by 7,801 people. Observers believe that Rushdie had a big advantage over the other authors, partly because he was able to convince all his ex-wives to vote for him.
“If he was able to do that, he deserves to win,” said CNN host Larry King, who has been married seven times. “I can’t even get my ex-wives to take my calls.”
John Shaw, a book reviewer who had thrown his support behind another shortlisted book, JM Coetzee's "Disgrace," called the entire contest a disgrace. "I'm sure there was some vote-rigging going on," Shaw said, accusing Rushdie of getting tips from Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe. "There's always a risk of that. That's why I wanted Jimmy Carter to oversee the voting."
Book publisher David Putnam, who supported JG Farrell's "The Siege Of Krishnapur," urged Booker prize administrators to reveal how many of Rushdie's votes came from India.
"I have nothing against India," he said, "but there are more than a billion people there, many of whom have cell phones and internet access. Rushdie would be guaranteed to win any contest if he just received votes from one percent of all guys named 'Salman.'"
He noted that Rushdie's candidacy for the Best of the Booker prize had been promoted on a number of websites created in India, including GoRushdie.com, VoteEarlyVoteOften.com and Vote4MyUncleSalman.com.
Putnam and others believe the voting was particularly unfair to Farrell, who wasn't able to canvass for votes, largely because he happens to be dead. "I couldn't arrange any special appearances or book signings for him," Putnam said. "Unfortunately, very few people participated in our 'Visit a Famous Author's Grave' tour."
Mandeep Singh, professor of literature at University of Punjab, Philadelphia Campus (UPPC), said he hopes no other literary prize is determined through public voting. "It may seem like a good idea," he said, "but do we really want to entrust such decisions to the same people who re-elected George W. Bush?"
Amitava Ghosh, assistant professor of English at Penn State University, agreed with Singh. "Nobody is really too upset about Rushdie winning the Best of the Booker award," he said, "but imagine what everyone will say when John Grisham is awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature."
DID THAT REALLY HAPPEN?
1. An Uttar Pradesh woman believed to be 70 years old gave birth to twins using in vitro fertilization, so she and her husband could have a male heir.
2. Guinness World Records announced that Mukesh Ambani’s billion-dollar residence in Mumbai will be listed in its 2009 edition as the house with the most servants in the world.
3. A community organization in Tamil Nadu started a scheme that pays residents in one neighborhood 10 paise each time they use a public toilet.
4. Presidential candidate Barack Obama, hoping to win support from Indian-Americans, rescheduled a campaign trip in August so he could attend the Chicago concert of Amitabh Bachchan’s Unforgettable Tour.
5. An international survey found that Indians are considered the second most obnoxious tourists in the world, only slightly better than the Chinese.
(1,3 and 5 really happened)
HEARD IN AN INDIAN CLASSROOM
“Don’t laugh at the back benches. Otherwise teeth and all will be fallen down.”
“Write down your name and father of your name!”
“Shhh ? quiet ? the principal is revolving around college.”
“Tomorrow call your parents, especially mother and father.”
“Why are you looking at the monkeys outside when I am in the class?”
“Don’t try to talk in front of my back!”
“Open the doors of the windows and let the atmosphere come in!”
(Excerpts from actual matrimonial ads on the Internet)
She’ll follow you everywhere: “I believe there is no perfect picture but I want my man/husband to be honest in any kind of situation, loving, caring and understanding as well...... most important thing I want to be my mans SHADOW.”
She’s simple and jolly: “I am a simple girl with simple thoughts. ? I am a jolly kind of person. I love music. I mingle up with people easily.”
He’s Mr. Wright: “i don't no how can i describe my self, i am simple & fun-loving. Wright now i am doing my business.”
He doesn’t care for politics: “I am looking for someone who does not require too much in life, just to live a simple life. ? Someone who enjoys children and taking care of them. Someone who is honest and straight-forward, none of that politics and drama.”
DESI FUN ONLINE
Matt Harding video
A beautiful song with lyrics from a Tagore poem
A 10-minute performance from the Bangladeshi stand-up comedian
Compiled and partly written by Indian humorist MELVIN DURAI.
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