Arts and Entertainment

'Napoleon was a terrific guy before he started crossing national borders,' says Andrew Wylie

The Silence Of Mohammed, By Salim Bachi, trans. Sue Rose

It is not two years since the offices of Martin Rynja were firebombed by fanatics who objected to his firm, Gibson Square, publishing Sherry Jones's The Jewel of Medina. Although three men were convicted of the attack, the novel, about the Prophet Muhammad's wife Aisha, has still not troubled the presses of this country.

Rushdie: it's time to tell the story of my fatwa

Author of 'The Satanic Verses' ready to describe his years under police protection

From Fatwa to Jihad: The Rushdie Affair and its Legacy, By Kenan Malik

When Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa against Salman Rushdie in 1989, he didn't want only the author of The Satanic Verses killed – he pronounced that: "All those involved in its publication who were aware of its contents are sentenced to death." Even this wasn't cause enough for the then Conservative government to denounce the fatwa. Instead, from Geoffrey Howe to William Waldegrave to Margaret Thatcher herself, statements of sympathy were proffered towards those who may have felt that their religious sensibilities had been offended.

Imaginary Homelands, By Salman Rushdie

Anyone picking up this collection of essays might reasonably expect extensive reflection on the events that pushed Rushdie into the headlines. Instead, much of the contents seem fusty and oddly irrelevant.

Geoffrey Wheatcroft: Hateful views we should not suppress

Plenty of people will be repelled by the thought of Griffin on TV, or Wilders in the UK

A Chapter of Hats and Other Stories, By Machado de Assis trs John Gledson

You may not have heard of him, since his reputation has for various reasons not been as great as is deserved, but Machado de Assis was a master of the short-story form. Slavery still existed for the first 49 years of his life, but although he was born into poverty, he went on to become the most distinguished of Brazilian writers, garnering praise from Salman Rushdie, Woody Allen and Susan Sontag, among others. This is an excellent translation from the Portuguese by John Gledson, who also provides an incisive introduction that muses on reasons why Machado's reputation might have fallen behind – including his bleak vision.

Boyd Tonkin: The perfect time for judges to take a literary staycation

The Man Booker competition used routinely to trigger snide insiders' comments that went something like this: "There was this Irishman, a Scotsman, two Indians, an Australian and a Canadian. And that's this year's shortlist!" Kneejerk sarcasm aside, the prize had made a permanent mark as the most conspicuous arena in which "English" fiction opened its arms to embrace every – non-United States – variety of the literary language. Already underway when Salman Rushdie won with Midnight's Children in 1981, this branding of the Booker as an annual festival of "global English" or even "post-colonial fiction" gathered pace year by year, right up to Aravind Adiga's success with The White Tiger in 2008.

Protocols of the Elders of Sodom and other essays, By Tariq Ali

Tariq Ali momentarily puts his politics aside, to write of books, films and sticky wickets

The Black Album, National Theatre, London

It lives on the page but it dies on the stage. That, alas, is the story of Hanif Kureishi's second brilliant novel, The Black Album, which in 1995 picked up on the Salman Rushdie fatwah and the rising cultural phenomenon of British Muslim fundamentalism while cracking open the whole issue of what should form the basis of a liberal, multicultural education programme.

The Resurrectionist, By Jack O'Connell

A comic comeback reframed

Joan Smith: Free speech has to be for all, Home Secretary

We have to nothing to fear from listening to Wilders

Letters: Freedom of speech

Freedom of speech – even for odious views

The Enchantress of Florence, By Salman Rushdie

We know that Rushdie will never pick up a full deck of positive reviews for anything he writes, but the predictable divisions that greeted this spectacular fantasia should not mask its sheer panache and pace.

Johann Hari: Why should I respect these oppressive religions?

Whenever a religious belief is criticised, its adherents say they're victims of 'prejudice'

The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop, By Lewis Buzbee

Lewis Buzbee has spent a life in books, as bookseller, book sales rep and writer. This is a loving memoir of all the bookstores he's worked, shopped or dallied away the hours in, and a history of bookselling going back as far as the great library at Alexandria, taking in the Chinese inventions of paper and block printing, Guttenberg's movable type and the influence of the 18th-century London coffee shop on reading habits. It is full of curious lore, such as that the word book comes from buch, the German word for the beech that book covers used to be made of; and that the original Shakespeare & Co in Paris closed down in 1941 rather than sell a copy of Finnegans Wake to a high-ranking German officer.

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Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

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