23 June 2006

Since I'm writing a novel about India, I figured that it was time to take a look at Midnight's Children, which is what I'm currently reading. Whenever I think about Salman Rushdie, however, I'm also compelled to remember The Greatest Moment of My Life, in which Rushdie played a memorable part. It's been more than four years since my Greatest Moment, and I was curious to see whether it had been recorded for posterity. A quick online search reveals that the newspapers reported it here, here, and here. The version in the Harvard Gazette is the most accurate:
Three of the 21st century's foremost writers of English gathered at Harvard March 8 to read from their works. Sponsored by the Harvard Advocate, America's oldest college literary magazine, the event featured poet John Ashbery '49, and prose writers Jamaica Kincaid and Salman Rushdie. [A short question-and-answer period followed.]

For the final question, a young man asked, "Is it possible to be an artist and also be happy?"

Ashbery paused reflectively, then said: "I don't know yet." Kincaid responded archly: "Maybe the question ought to be, is it possible to be happy and be anything else." Rushdie declared simply: "I'm extremely happy."
The article fails to note that the young man's question was greeted with thunderous applause from the crowd. It also fails to mention that the young man was me. Well, fine. It was my only moment of glory at Harvard. I did learn a few things when researching it online, however. First, Natalie Portman was in the audience that night. Second, my question was apparently much more profound than even I had realized. Here's the Harvard Crimson's version of my question:
In the end, however, if the world created in the works of these three looming figures consists of estrangement, interminable searching and an everlasting desire to return home and understand one’s self and one’s society, how can the outsider—forced to confront these problems at every turn—be happy? In response to this question...
Yes, well, I guess that's what I meant to say.

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