Salman Rushdie

Salman Rushdie is everywhere these days: knighted by the Queen of England; playing Helen Hunt’s OB/GYN in Then She Found Me; even kissing Scarlett Johansson in the video for her Tom Waits cover, “Falling Down.” The writer’s sudden visibility and cultural cross-pollination helps launch his new historical novel, The Enchantress of Florence (Random House, $26), which trades politics for cerebral beach reading. Rushdie has crafted a tale of renaissance Florence and India’s Mughal Empire, a love triangle between an enchantress (the coy princess Qara Köz), the pugilistic Akbar the Great, and the mysterious traveler calling himself by turns “Mogor dell’Amore,” “Uccello de Firenze,” and “Vespucci.” Rushdie’s tableau is as colorful and diaphanous as the silks hanging from his characters. The Enchantress is carefully draped in language to obscure its populist genre; the book is both static but lively. Rushdie keeps the reader guessing for pages just what secret the traveler is carrying. And as for the author’s next move, should we be surprised if he’s pitching this weekend for the Mariners? Elliott Bay Book Co., 101 S. Main St., 624-6600, Free. Noon. Also: Town Hall, 1119 Eighth Ave., 652-4255, $5. 7:30 p.m. KATE SILVER

Thu., June 12, noon, 2008

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