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 nothing for guests with more literary tastes.
Beginning 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 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 "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay" by Michael Chabon.
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.
Among the books on the list are F Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby," Eudora Welty's "The Collected Stories," Saul Bellow's "Humboldt's Gift" and Philip Roth's "Portnoy's Complaint."