zp (priya) dala


Dear salman


June 4th

ZP Dala <>

Dear Salman. I am writing to you after a long while and even though I don’t want to in this manner, I am hard-pressed to seek another option. The last thing I wanted to do was curry favour or use my incident to gain a leg up.
By incident, I refresh your memory, I am the South African writer that was assaulted after I admired your literary works. I won't go into further details. It was a messy time.

I need your help. I am very confident in stating that acceptance of my literary works have suffered the effects of that time. It has been subtle at times and it has been most blatant at times but clearly, Salman, I have been boycotted and ignored because of my controversial stance and open voice about admiring your literary works as well as because of my own public voice about the small-mindedness and nuances of a particular community. I do not think I need to go into details about the community I refer to.

I have completed my second novel. This novel is very good. Editors at Knopf have read it and only have high praise for it. They say they have "rarely come across a voice such as this." (I won't send you the link to evidence this, I didn’t think you would question my honesty really, you have heard my honesty and voice so often. But. In case you have forgotten… I can send it on request).

But they also clearly state that due to circumstances they cannot explain they cannot take on the novel.

Now, the thing is this.... I have heard this one time too many. And I have been directly told by publishers that, due to my "sensitive incident with Rushdie," I am not being picked up. I have also been left out of literary events and festivals, and my debut piece (lauded by critics) was never entered into appropriate awards. This is clear bias. This is not me crying wolf, Salman. My work is strong. You remember the essay I sent you while I was in the hospital….entitled “The M Word.” Well, that was never published either.  Had I wanted to use your name to gain favour I would've done so lonng ago. I respected that and still do. But I can't go any further. I am a good writer but cannot break this wall that surrounds me due to controversial issues that links your name with my name on any Google Search…. within this frustrating community of zealots and the people who fear them.

Certainly I confess, I do not understand this. I also cannot accept this. I refuse to be marginalised any longer by my own publishers who ditched me after my assault and never wanted to see me again. My books are good. They are hard, they are not candy floss. They are good.

I need you to advise or to assist me. I not only admired your literary style, I do write in the oft misunderstood magical realism style as well, having cut my teeth on a long career as a psychologist. I have confessed much to you in prior letters. This is not about style. This is about literary boyvcott. See that!

I am desperate. I am sick of this. I am fuming mad at this. And I want some help. You have guards. You have cars and envoys. I have nothing. I walk the streets and endure the pointing. I endure the midnight hang up phone calls. I endure the Mullahs who regularly come to my home and scare the fukn B’Jesus out of my kids. This is bullshit Salman.

I am too good to go down quietly just because I cannot break a ceiling imposed on me by the fact that I carry a Muslim name in this current climate, and that I admitted openly to Muslims and non Musilms, my deep admiration for one of the cleverest writers of my time. On merit (I hope),  I have been awarded the International Writers Program Residency at University of Iowa – a huge feat I am told. So why won’t a publisher like PRH or Knopf take on a novel they openly admired? Something is not right here. I am sick and tired of being asked my religious status and I am sick and tired of hearing your name each time I try to publish MY WORK! Mine!!!!!!

Salman, what can you say to me?  I have to ask. Is there anything at all you can say or do right now that would make any fucking difference in my life?
I apologise for my lack of brevity. I’m as mad as a Black Mamba right now. If it were you, you would be too.

zp        (Salman, typos accepted as typing in rage oft produces. I know how much you hate typsossos