George W. Bush inspired writer Tariq Ali

Mon Jul 13, 2009 12:20pm EDT
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By Martin Roberts

GIJON, Spain (Reuters) - Pakistani-born writer, political activist and filmmaker Tariq Ali thought he had switched for good from non-fiction to fiction in 1990 after the Berlin Wall fell but switched back when the United States decided to invade Afghanistan and Iraq.

Ali had published the first three titles in his "Islam Quintet" of novels, which chart the encounter between Islam and western Christendom over the centuries, when 9/11 happened and the U.S. government led by then President George W. Bush took the decision to invade both countries.

"George Bush was quite an inspiration to me to start writing non-fiction again," Ali told a news conference at the Semana Negra book festival in Gijon, northern Spain.

"My publishers would ask me, 'When are you going to finish the Quintet?' and I would say, 'Ask George Bush. Is he going to make a war on a third country?"

Following 9/11, Ali penned "The Clash of Fundamentalisms," a non-fiction work which details the history preceding the attacks on New York and Washington and explores the political history of Islam as background.

He has also recently written critically of the alliance between the United States and his native Pakistan in "The Duel: Pakistan on the Flight Path of American Power," which complements dozens of political works and polemics authored by Ali since he was a radical student activist in 1960s Britain.

Ali says many in Britain have criticized him for delving into fiction, saying it detracts from his non-fiction writing.

"It isn't a contradiction to write fiction, non-fiction," he said. "It's the same person writing this, but in different ways. Different things come out of people as they are writing fiction and different things are important when writing history or biography."   Continued...

<p>Former U.S. President George W. Bush speaks during the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2009 in Boao, Hainan province April 18, 2009. REUTERS/Andy Gao</p>