Today in books and literature: The plot to kill Salman Rushdie may not have existed, The Telegraph takes a look at what President Obama's read since taking office, and Oxford finally has a Quidditch team to call its own.
Were "paid assassins from the Mumbai underworld" really plotting to kill Salman Rushdie if he appeared as scheduled at the Jaipur Literature Festival in India last week? Rushdie thought so, which is why he bowed out of attending the festival on Friday, but over the weekend English-language Indian newspaper The Hindu reported the threat was invented by "local intelligence officials" in the northwest state of Rajasthan in an effort to deter Rushdie from attending. Rushdie, for his part, has already tweeted that he's "outraged" and stated that he believes authorities lied to him about when they told him there was a plot against his life. Meanwhile, festival organizers are planning to have Rushdie address the conference via video tomorrow, but sources tell India's NDTV that the police and local government may block that from happening because of "concerns about law and order." [The New York Times]
Authors Hari Kunzru, Amitava Kumar, Jeet Thayil and Ruchir Joshi were all arrested for protesting Rushdie's absence by reading passages from The Satanic Verses at the festival over the weekend. The book has been banned in India since 1988, but it's unclear if reading from it is technically against the law. Lawyers familiar with the Indian Customs Act note India's government can only ban a text by prohibiting it from being imported. All four authors read passages that were printed out from the Internet, so they can't be accused of having illegally brought copies of the text into the country. [The Wall Street Journal]
The Newbery Medal for best children's novel of 2011 has gone to Jack Gantos for his book Dead End in Norvelt, while Chris Raschka won the Caldecott prize for best illustrated book for A Ball for Daisy. Both prizes are awarded by the American Library Association. [AP]
So what has President Obama been reading since taking office? Mainly biographies of Lincoln and FDR. That's to be expected, since he's president. But we applaud him for finding time to read Richard Price's Lush Life, Joseph O'Neill's Netherland and The Way Home by George Pelecanos. It's nice to have a president who has time for fiction. [The Telegraph]
It's been five years since the last book in the Harry Potter series came out, but students at Oxford University have finally gotten around to making Quidditch a club sport. Good for them! Because they're not wizards and witches, their version stays on the ground, and plays like a combination of touch football and half-court basketball. We'd note that students at Harvard, Yale, and Tufts had this idea years ago. [The Guardian]