Salman Rushdie on Being Free to Disagree

The author discusses “The Old Man in the Piazza,” his story from this week’s issue of the magazine.

Deborah Treisman
November 16, 2020
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Salman Rushdie on Being Free to Disagree

Your story in this week’s issue, “The Old Man in the Piazza,” revolves around an old man who, every day, sits at a café on the opposite side of a piazza from “our language,” who is female. How did this scenario find its way onto the page?

The truth: the old man had his origins in the crazy car chase that is the climax of the original “Pink Panther” movie. As cars zoom past in every direction, the drivers wearing gorilla outfits, etc., a gentleman impassively watches the wild goings on. I’d been thinking about him for a while, and then one day the character of our language arrived on the scene and I understood that I had the story. I truly don’t know where she came from. She just showed up.