Friday, August 22, 2008

Rushdie 1, Bodyguard, 0 - Truth Wins?

According to The Bookseller, ''On Her Majesty's Service," the book by former Salman Rushdie bodyguard Ron Evans (referenced below on this blog) contained "falsehoods in the manuscript" and is currently being revised, according to its publisher James Blake.

This must come with much satisfaction to Mr. Rushdie, who after reading excerpts portraying him as a mini-Napoleon, threatened to sue for libel.

One now wonders how much Rushdie will now appear in the book, if at all.

Unfortunately for James Blake, this new, sanitized version of the book is likely to be a lot less interesting to readers. After all, who really wants to read about the day-to-day adventures of a exaggeration-prone civil servant who was willing to sell out his former charge (no matter how difficult Rushdie may have been) for a few quid. That's a man who can't be trusted.

The publisher, once again, is only taking the responsible route after external objections were raised. It's yet another instance of a publisher taking an author's word at face value when there's money to be made. I wonder: Were there internal objections raised? What, during the editorial process, can bring us closer to the truth? (Fact checking, we're told, is simply too much to ask of a publisher).

Of course, we're assuming that there indeed were falsehoods in the book and that Rushdie's threat didn't merely intimidate the publisher.

Either way, it is yet another sad instance of a publisher squandering its credibility.

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