The Strange Case of Amitava Kumar and Salman Rushdie

Amitava Kumar was to introduce Salman Rushdie at a lecture Rushdie delivered to Vassar’s freshman class. But Rushdie insisted that he’d cancel or that he’s not share the stage if that happened. Amitava on the affair, and his never delivered introduction, over at his blog:

Salman Rushdie came to Vassar College earlier this week to deliver a lecture to the Class of 2010–but he made it clear to the organizers that he would cancel if I was involved in his visit. I had earlier been asked to introduce him, and then, well, I was disinvited. Mr Rushdie and I have never met, although I have heard him speak several times. I presume his dislike of me has to do with essays like this that I have written about him in the past. I cannot say whether he has read my Passport Photos but it’d be fair to say that the book takes its cues from Rushdie. It was from him that we really learned to show some attitude. When I say “we” I’m talking of many contemporary Indian writers in English. But we have also sought our own paths, and in doing so we’ve also sometimes sought to renounce our past, the past in which Mr Rushdie looms so monumentally. I don’t know whether I could’ve usefully involved the freshmen at Vassar in a public discussion of any writer’s troubled relationship with his or her forbears; nor am I certain how much they (or, for that matter, our honored guest) would’ve valued a dissection of the ways in which criticism must survive in the world. But despite those uncertainties, I very much feel that an opportunity has been lost. In any case, here’s a part of what I had intended to say in my introduction…

Rushdie responds in the comments.