Salman Rushdie's latest novel, The Enchantress of Florence, brings together Florentine Italy and Mughal India, and the cultures that lie between them, in a tale that has been described as a "sumptuous mixture of history and fable." On Tuesday, October 6, 2009, at 6:00 p.m., the Metropolitan Museum of Art Concerts & Lectures series will present a conversation with the author and three art historians - Carmen Bambach, Curator of Drawings and Prints, and Navina Haidar Haykel, Associate Curator of Islamic Art, both of the Museum; and David Roxburgh, Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Professor of Islamic Art History at Harvard University - to explore major themes and visual imagery in his novel.
Tickets to the event, priced at $25, are available by calling 212-570-3949, or may be purchased online at www.metmuseum.org/tickets.
The Enchantress of Florence is the story of a great beauty believed to possess powers of enchantment and sorcery, her impossible journey to the far-off city of Florence, and her attempt to command her own destiny in a man's world. It is also the story of two cities, unknown to each other, at the height of their powers - the hedonistic Mughal capital, in which the brilliant Akbar the Great wrestles daily with questions of belief, desire, and the treachery of his sons, and the equally sensual city of Florence during the High Renaissance, where Niccolò Machiavelli takes a starring role as he learns, the hard way, about the true brutality of power.
The novel, published in 2008 (Random House), combines imaginative stories with meticulously researched historical detail, referring widely to works of art and architecture of Mughal India and the late Renaissance. Artists and their creations, ranging from the gilded pages of manuscripts to monumental architectural settings, form a key to the central themes of the book. In evoking them, Enchantress brings the world of the art historian alive.
Born in Bombay, India, Salman Rushdie is the author of ten novels - Grimus, Midnight's Children (Booker Prize, 1981; "Best of the Booker" award, 2008, for the best novel to have won the prize in its first 40 years), Shame, The Satanic Verses, Haroun and the Sea of Stories, The Moor's Last Sigh, The Ground Beneath Her Feet, Fury, Shalimar the Clown, and The Enchantress of Florence - and one book of stories, East, West, as well as three works of nonfiction — Imaginary Homelands, The Jaguar Smile, and Step Across This Line. His stage adaptation of Midnight's Children was performed in London and New York by the Royal Shakespeare Company. In 2004 an opera based upon Haroun and the Sea of Stories premiered at New York City Opera.
A Fellow of the British Royal Society of Literature and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Salman Rushdie has received, among other awards, the Whitbread Prize for Best Novel (twice), the European Union's Aristeion Prize for Literature, Author of the Year Prizes in both Britain and Germany, the Budapest Grand Prize for Literature, the Premio Grinzane Cavour in Italy, and the Austrian State Prize for European Literature, as well as the Freedom of the City in Mexico City, Strasbourg, and El Paso, and the Edgerton Prize of the American Civil Liberties Union. He holds the rank of Commandeur in the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, France's highest artistic honor. From 2004 to 2006 he served as President of PEN American Center, and continues to work as president of the PEN World Voices International Literary Festival, which he helped create. In June 2007 he was knighted for services to literature. His books have been translated into more than 40 languages.
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The Metropolitan Museum of Art is one of the world's largest and finest art museums. Its collections include more than two million works of art spanning 5,000 years of world culture, from prehistory to the present and from every part of the globe. Founded in 1870, the Metropolitan Museum is located in New York City's Central Park along Fifth Avenue (from 80th to 84th Streets). Last year it was visited by 5.2 million people.