Rosa Diamond at eighty-nine in a long silver sheath dress with a cigarette holder in one gloved hand and a silver turban on her head drank gin-and-sin from a green triangle and told stories of the goof old days.
-from The satanic verses by Salman Rushdie
Did I tell you about when I finally got around to reading The Satanic Verses? It took forever and what finally made it happen(in 2014) was an article in Vanity Fair celebrating the the 25th anniversary of it’s publication.
I don’t remember the Fatwa much but it obviously cast a long shadow; there was discord in “the Swedish academy” about whether to give Rushdie public support or not, which meant that one member stopped partaking in meetings and activities(you cannot leave “The Swedish academy” whilst alive. If you say yes it is “until death do you part”)(they didn’t by the way). And swedes abhor conflict. Stories in the paper of Rushdie’s life in hiding and the attempted assassination when he stayed in Norway made headlines. That and the assassination of prime minister Olof Palme (where they may or may not have caught the man who did it) were those things that hinted of the dark complexities of adulthood and parents did not want to discuss in front of you.
My father had gotten a copy of the book, and read it, as soon as it was published in swedish. He has worked in the Middle East a lot, and in Iran, so for him it was essential to see what the fatwa was about. He was not impressed by Rushdie and that’s as far as we’ll discuss his views.There it was, in my face, growing up.
At some point I read Midnight’s children, which I liked and still prefer to The Satanic Verses. I’ve read a few more but honestly they leave little impression individually. He is fun to read, you are immersed in this burlesque magical world with lots of colours, scents and images for hundreds of pages, but then it’s over and I feel perfectly content that it is. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing: his stories end at exactly the right moment in my view. And I know what I’m getting when I pick him up. And after having it on my own shelf(having “borrowed” it from my parents) for years, then being on a book diet, and reading that V.F piece it happened. In other news; hell froze over.
In regards to the controversy I have very little to say. When it comes to the literary qualities of the book apparently The time literary supplement*called it “some of the best novels Rushdie has written”. And some of the worst in my opinion. It is a story told in several parts, in different times and by a multitude of people. It is uneven to say the least.
Oh well; as a bookworm and a cocktail lover I notice very different things. A reference to a drink might just pass most people by but not me. Rosa Diamond is not an essential character to the story but she is something.
“The gin-and-sin” is a classic creation from the 20’s; her outfit makes me think that she was nostalgic about her youth when the drink was in vogue. Where the name comes from in unclear but it is evocative; bathtub-gin and speak-easies. Women smoking and wearing trousers(possibly the at the same time). Flappers and Robber barons.
I did not manage a green glass in the shape of a triangle but a “gin-and-sin”? No problem and it’s the perfect time of year for it as citrus is at it’s peak. Drinks with orange juice have a bad reputation but when mixed with lime juice it’s a great mix of sweet oranges and sour aromatic limes. The rather generous amount of gin adds a kick and the grenadine both colour and taste.
Gin-And-sin; yields 1 cocktail
5 cl gin
3 cl fresh orange juice
3 cl fresh lime juice
1 bars poon grenadine (make your own,it’s easy. Store bought is rarely good)
1.Shake ingredients with ice until chilled.
2.Pour into glass.
3. Zest with the orange and then throw away the peel.(or maybe let it go in the drink; it’s up to you)
As always; enjoy responsibly. And if you want to read a good Rushdie I recommend I Midnight’s children or The Enchantress of Florence. Although for that you should have very different cocktails.