ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Wards of Awards

Artists who revel in awards from the establishment run the risk of co-optation and neutralisation – and a loss of integrity.

The terms “modesty” and “humility” are not usually associated with Sir Salman Rushdie. Indeed, someone once suggested that a Nobel Prize would actually make Salman Rushdie quite angry. He might exclaim: “Why, after so many years? And why just one, not three Nobels?”

When the list of those who would kneel before the Queen for the honour of adding “Sir” to their names was announced, the not-yet-Sir Salman exclaimed that he was “humbled” by the news. A few days ago, when he finally got the chance to kneel and bow before royalty, he almost stumbled. A “case of nerves”, he explained later. Somebody who had never passed up a chance to take a swipe at the pretensions of Empire and its hangers-on was now tamed. Privamavda Gopal, writing in The Guardian, described Sir Salman as a shadow of “his own creation, Baal, the talented poet who becomes a giggling hack coralled into attacking his ruler’s enemies.”

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