NEW YORK (Reuters) - Acclaimed novelist Salman Rushdie has come to the aid of guests who check into a trendy Manhattan hotel with nothing to read, choosing 13 celebrated American books for their rooms.
The upscale Standard Hotel in Manhattan already provides high-definition televisions and iPod docks in rooms but had previously not included so much as a Gideons Bible for guests with more literary tastes.
As of next week, guests will find a copy of one of the 13 books from Rushdie's reading list in their room, a move timed to coincide with the week-long World Voices Festival of International Literature organized by PEN, the literary and human rights organization.
"These books are going to be on the nightstands until they disappear," said Laszlo Jakab Orsos, the festival's director.
He said the books will be well-thumbed second-hand copies donated by Housing Works, an organization that provides services for people with AIDS and the homeless and raises funds, in part, by running thrift stores.
"The core element of literature is what? It's a used, worn copy of a book. So nothing can beat that," Orsos said.
Rushdie is the chairman of this year's PEN festival, which is being held at the hotel and other venues around the city and brings together more than 100 writers from 40 nations.
The British-Indian author's list includes mostly well-known literary classics, including 'Leaves of Grass', the 19th-century poetry collection by Walt Whitman, and 'The Sound and the Fury', William Faulkner's stream-of-consciousness masterpiece. The most recent work is 2000's 'The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay' by Michael Chabon, one of only four writers on the list who are still alive today.
Guests wanting to read one of Rushdie's novels, which include the Booker Prize-winning Midnight's Children, will have to bring their own copies.
Salman Rushdie's Standard Selection includes:
Walt Whitman: Leaves of Grass
William Faulkner: The Sound and the Fury
F. Scott Fitzgerald: The Great Gatsby
Eudora Welty: The Collected Stories
Bernard Malamud: The Complete Stories
Saul Bellow: Humboldt's Gift
Philip Roth: Portnoy's Complaint
Flannery O'Connor: Everything That Rises Must Converge
Kurt Vonnegut: Slaughterhouse-Five
Thomas Pynchon: V.
Joseph Heller: Catch-22
Toni Morrison: Beloved
Michael Chabon: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay
Reporting by Jonathan Allen; editing by Barbara Goldberg and Peter Bohan