Books: An Explosive Reception

THE SATANIC VERSES by Salman Rushdie; Viking; 547 pages; $19.95

Occasionally, heartening evidence surfaces that some people still care about serious fiction after all. Here is a long, challenging novel by a highly praised writer, and it has spurred a frenzy of international attention. Headlines have bristled. Voices have been raised, although not exactly in unanimous praise. The book has been banned in a number of countries with substantial Muslim populations; its appearance in the West has been greeted with isolated public protests and telephoned bomb threats.

It must be added that few of those outraged by The Satanic Verses have...

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