The British protests against Rushdie's novel and these more recent protests are commonly understood in terms of the free speech versus religious offence argument. But it is important to think beyond this limiting binary to attain a greater degree of intercultural understanding in twenty-first century Britain.
The publication of Salman Rushdie's memoir Joseph Anton will inevitably give rise to reappraisal of the Satanic Verses affair. In this pair of articles, we look backwards and then forwards in time from this dispute to other controversies involving religious protests against creative works to add historical depth and complexity to the debate.
Does it take a controversy for an Indie novel to become a bestseller in today's crowded electronic era? Of course if your novel is provocative enough, and both the above are extremely so, it will rub many the wrong way, sufficiently enough to generate that much-needed word-of-mouth buzz, which any marketer worth his/her salt will tell you is invaluable.
Martin Amis provided the evening's most entertaining moments. Going through old photographs with Stephen Fry, he was fantastically funny, noting a baguette stowed away in Hitchens' top pocket while in Paris, and remarking upon his abundant sprouting chest-hair in another that showed him smoking a cigarette while holding a brace of pheasants on the Rothschild estate.