Saturday, October 4, 2014

That'll do Nicely, Sir

Brunch with the Governor of the State of Vera Cruz, the avuncular Javier Duarte, in his rather nice home, joined by Salman, several local dignatories, Hay Fest people, the French & Spanish cultural attaches etc, all of us seated around an immense table - so big that we used a mic to speak. 
Then off to the Teatro del Estado, the largest of the festival venues, for Salman's talk, moderated by Gabi Weiss. It was packed - around 1,500 people - and within ten minutes he transfixed everyone. Funny, serious, lots of stuff I didn't know (like his surname doesn't go back beyond his father, who adopted it in honour of a medieval Andalusian muslim intellectual), his struggle to find out how to write during the 70s (though of course he was an advertising copywriter then and coined not only cream cakes' "Naughty but nice" but also American Express's "That'll do nicely, sir"), his meetings with Latin American writers, and of course the event that changed his life 25 years ago. His views on ISIS were predictably scary and honest. 

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