Kolkata Book Fair organisers say Rushdie lying

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Salman Rushdie

Kolkata, Feb 1 (PTI): Organisers of Kolkata Literary Meet (KLM) and Kolkata Book Fair have denied British Indian novelist Salman Rushdie’s statement today that he was invited to be a part of the literary carnival and said he was ‘lying’. 

Rushdie is lying. He was never invited to the festival,” Tridib Chatterjee, general secretary of Publishers and Book Sellers Guild, which organises Kolkata Book Fair, said here. 

“Ask him (Rushdie) to show his invitation. May be he is a renowned writer but he is lying, Chatterjee said. 

Asked whether there was any pressure from the government not to include Rushdies name in the invitation list, he said the guild organises the book fair and the government has nothing to do with it. 

Echoing him, KLM organiser Malavika Banerjee said we never invited Rushdie. His name was never included in our schedule. 

Although the Booker Prize winners name was never included officially in the list of speakers at the five-day KLM, which began here Wednesday at the Kolkata Book Fair premises, both Rushdie and film director Deepa Mehta have claimed the author was a ‘surprise guest’. 

“…I was indeed planning to take part in a session at the Kolkata Lit Meet along with the scheduled speakers Deepa Mehta, Rahul Bose, and Ruchir Joshi. The organizers were fully aware of this and had asked me to appear as a ‘surprise guest’. If they now deny this, that is dishonest. They actually paid for my plane ticket,” Rushdie said in a statement before flying out of the country this morning. 

Mehta had tweeted yesterday that the lit meet had paid for his Mumbai-Kolkata flight ticket.

As per the initial programme of a KLM session titled Midnight Magic, Deepa Mehta, her producer husband David Hamilton and actor Rahul Bose were to discuss the challenge of transferring the magic realism of Midnights Children from page to reel.

Only Bose could make it to the event on Wednesday night while both the director and the producer stayed back in Mumbai, along with Rushdie, who has not only written the screenplay but also did a voiceover in the film based on his novel of the same name. 

More than 50 authors from around the world are scheduled to participate in the ongoing KLM to talk on varied topics like history, geopolitics, cinema and sports. 

Participants include luminaries like Amartya Sen, Sourav Ganguly, Shashi Tharoor, Javed Akhtar, Sharmila Tagore, Amitav Ghosh, M A Farooqui, Amish Tripathi and Thomas Kineally among others, KLM sources said.