A bar-room brawl . . . almost

I’m now officially done with trying to hawk my book to America, though I’ve been busily lining up reasons to come back later in the year. This trip’s swansong came on 8 May, with three radio interviews – including this 45-minute segment for the Leonard Lopate show on WNYC – followed by a reading at the legendarily louche KGB’s on East 4th Street. Below is what part of the room looked like, if the eye and lens of my multi-talented artist-dancer-lawyer-photographer friend Miriam Aziz are to be trusted. Dim though the lights might have been, the venue’s hosted some serious literary luminaries over the years, and I was tickled pink by my invitation to speak there. Great fun was had by almost all, but the saloon-side Q&A came to a suitably chaotic conclusion when someone on a bar-stool followed up a curt question with several lengthy interjections. After challenging various assertions I hadn’t made, he warned everyone present that I didn’t just happen to be wrong about Islamic history; I was deliberately lying, he said, because that is what Islam requires of its followers when they talk to infidels. I tried persuading him he was mistaken, but he was having none of it. Ah well. There’s only a limited amount you can really do to counter that argument . . .

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