The Enchantress of Florence: Salman Rushdie in conversation with Jeffrey Eugenides
Drawing on more than seven years of research, Salman Rushdie's new novel, The Enchantress of Florence, is the story of a woman who attempts to command her own destiny in a man's world. It brings together two cities that barely know each other the hedonistic Mughal capital, in which the brilliant emperor Akbar the Great wrestles daily with questions of belief, desire, and the treachery of his sons, and the equally sensual city of Florence, where Niccolò Machiavelli takes a starring role.
The story opens with a young European traveler who calls himself ‘Mogor dell’Amore,’ the Mughal of Love. He arrives at the court of the Emperor Akbar, lord of the great Mughal Empire, with a tale that captivates the imperial capital, a story about a mysterious woman, a great beauty believed to possess powers of enchantment and sorcery, and her impossible journey to the far off city of Florence.
With storytelling that mixes political intrigue and high drama, romance and magic, Jeffrey Eugenides and Salman Rushdie discuss the ways in which the novel is a reflection on war and politics, gender and society, fantasy and rumor, individuality and public life, and how the brutal past still influences our present world.
Salman Rushdie is the author of many novels including Shalimar the Clown, Grimus, Midnight's Children, Shame, The Satanic Verses, and The Ground Beneath Her Feet, and one collection of short stories, East, West. He has also published works of non-fiction including The Jaguar Smile and Imaginary Homelands.
Jeffrey Eugenides is the author of the novels The Virgin Suicides and Middlesex, which received the Pulitzer Prize in 2003. His latest book, My Mistress's Sparrow Is Dead: Great Love Stories, from Chekhov to Munro, was published in January 2008. Jeffrey Eugenides is a Professor of Creative Writing at the Center for the Creative and Performing Arts at Princeton University.