19 Dec 2005

Toast of the Next European Book Festival?

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Though the California Governator is not in-step with the European intelligentsia, Brendan O’Neill identifies someone who is (though he does seem to be a bit of a plagiarist):

How long before Osama bin Laden gets invited to something like the Edinburgh Book Festival, to rub shoulders with the likes of Julian Barnes, wolf down canapés and win polite applause from the chattering classes for his poetic ramblings?

One of his statements has already been published as a bona fide opinion piece in that liberal bible the Guardian (under the heading ‘Resist the new Rome’ in January 2004), and now there’s this new book from the leftish literary publishing house Verso. It’s a collection of bin Laden’s statements from 1994 to 2004 with a handsome and serious jacket cover and discoloured, raggedy-edged pages to give it the look and feel of an instant classic. Reviewers have fawned over its ‘magnificent, eloquent, at times even poetic Arabic prose’, and claim that it shows the ‘author’ bin Laden (he’s not really the author, being stuck in a cave and all and with few means to receive royalties) as a ‘charismatic man of action, an eloquent preacher, a teacher of literature and a resilient, cunning, wonderfully briefed politician’ (1).

If it were not for the fact that bin Laden is the most wanted man in the world, and a mass murderer, and possibly dead, and apparently painfully shy (but then, aren’t all great poets?), surely the book festival circuit would not be far behind. I can picture him in the Speakers’ Tent in Edinburgh, all ethnically coiffured and clutching a copy of this, his life’s work, surrounded by wide-eyed journalists inquiring about his writing style and what inspires him to put pen to paper.

Hat tip to Glenn Reynolds.


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