Comedy works in mysterious ways, I always say. If you get the joke, it is because you recognize the reference to the phrase: "God works in mysterious ways." And not only do you know the reference but you also have a sense of humor. Maybe you associate the phrase with something that has happened to you, and this makes the joke personal. Comedy plays off the audience’s background, their experiences, what they know and believe.
Paul Berman reads at PEN World Voices Festival's opening night as Salman Rushdie and Judith Butler look on (© Beowulf Sheehan/PEN American Center)
Salman Rushdie reads at PEN World Voices Festival's opening night (© Beowulf Sheehan/PEN American Center)
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (Reuters)
On September 28, I appeared once again on "Inside the Sulphurbath," this time to discuss censorship, banned books, and freedom of expression. The conversation coincided with the end of Banned Books Week in the United States.
Shahrnush Parsipur’s writing career began in 1974 with the publication of her first novel, The Dog and the Long Winter. She's been in trouble with Iranian authorities ever since. Today, with more than twenty novels, short story collections, and translations under her belt, Parsipur lives in California. While she has always written in Persian and her fiction has always been about Iran, Parsipur does not consider herself to be a writer in exile.
There is no denying that hostile militant activity, sectarian violence, and political instability have left Pakistan swathed in discontent over the past few years. However, by looking at Pakistan through a despondent narrow light, people restrict themselves from appreciating the region’s innate beauty. Pakistan’s grandeur can be found in its spectacular northern mountain ranges, rich heritage, vibrant culture, delectable food, and a booming art market that has grown to become a foundation of national pride.