It happens every year and the media go crazy. They call your agent and ask where you will be at 12 o'clock. Just in case. Everyone is excited if they make it before someone else. It's of course incredibly flattering. Nine nominees, among them Norman Mailer and Gunter Grass. It's a hell of a list. I think Gunter Grass is a great writer, so I feel very happy that he got it.
You're a bit young for the Nobel, perhaps...
Yeah? Twelve or 13 books is not so few.
But don't you feel you've just begun?
I haven't finished. I feel very full of books at the moment.
The new edition of Haroun and the Sea of Stories: it's not exclusively a children's book, is it?
At one level, it's about serious things - about language and silence. About speech and the silencing of speech.
"From the moment I could talk, I was ordered to listen"...
Who's that; that's a song, isn't it?
Don't you remember?
Oh yes, it was Cat Stevens. A great and wise man. For me, the secret of the book was knowing precisely where to pitch the language. For long, I didn't find the language for it. The moment it came to life was when I found the tone of voice. It has a serious dimension but I didn't have any moralising intent. It didn't feel like a different process. There's, though, a slightly different kind of language effort.
It's in your style. Call it magic realism which is what it's been labelled...
It starts from a more or less real place. Haroun's family is naturalistic, Indian. Then I go off into a fairy tale land, and that's fine. The country is deliberately not called India, nor the city Bombay. Kashmir is the valley of K. It's meant to be those places.