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Salman Rushdie

Birthdate: 19. June 1947

Sir Ahmed Salman Rushdie is a British Indian novelist and essayist. His second novel, Midnight's Children , won the Booker Prize in 1981 and was deemed to be "the best novel of all winners" on two separate occasions, marking the 25th and the 40th anniversary of the prize. Much of his fiction is set on the Indian subcontinent. He combines magical realism with historical fiction; his work is concerned with the many connections, disruptions, and migrations between Eastern and Western civilizations.

His fourth novel, The Satanic Verses , was the subject of a major controversy, provoking protests from Muslims in several countries. Death threats were made against him, including a fatwā calling for his assassination issued by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the Supreme Leader of Iran, on 14 February 1989. The British government put Rushdie under police protection.

In 1983, Rushdie was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, the UK's senior literary organisation. He was appointed Commandeur de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres of France in January 1999. In June 2007, Queen Elizabeth II knighted him for his services to literature. In 2008, The Times ranked him thirteenth on its list of the 50 greatest British writers since 1945.Since 2000, Rushdie has lived in the United States. He was named Distinguished Writer in Residence at the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute of New York University in 2015. Earlier, he taught at Emory University. He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 2012, he published Joseph Anton: A Memoir, an account of his life in the wake of the controversy over The Satanic Verses. Wikipedia

Works

„What is freedom of expression? Without the freedom to offend, it ceases to exist.“

—  Salman Rushdie

As quoted in "The right to be downright offensive" by Jonathan Duffy in BBC News Magazine (21 December 2004) http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/magazine/4114497.stm

„And if that plunges me into contradiction and paradox, so be it; I've lived in that messy ocean all my life. I've fished in it for my art.“

—  Salman Rushdie

Address at Columbia University (1991)
Context: "Our lives teach us who we are." I have learned the hard way that when you permit anyone else's description of reality to supplant your own — and such descriptions have been raining down on me, from security advisers, governments, journalists, Archbishops, friends, enemies, mullahs — then you might as well be dead. Obviously, a rigid, blinkered, absolutist world view is the easiest to keep hold of, whereas the fluid, uncertain, metamorphic picture I've always carried about is rather more vulnerable. Yet I must cling with all my might to … my own soul; must hold on to its mischievous, iconoclastic, out-of-step clown-instincts, no matter how great the storm. And if that plunges me into contradiction and paradox, so be it; I've lived in that messy ocean all my life. I've fished in it for my art. This turbulent sea was the sea outside my bedroom window in Bombay. It is the sea by which I was born, and which I carry within me wherever I go.
"Free speech is a non-starter," says one of my Islamic extremist opponents. No, sir, it is not. Free speech is the whole thing, the whole ball game. Free speech is life itself.

„I know that many people do care, and are appalled by the … upside-down logic of the post-fatwa world, in which a … novelist can be accused of having savaged or "mugged" a whole community, becoming its tormentor (instead of its … victim) and the scapegoat for … its discontents… . (What minority is smaller and weaker than a minority of one?)“

—  Salman Rushdie

Address at Columbia University (1991)
Context: For many people, I've ceased to be a human being. I've become an issue, a bother, an "affair." … And has it really been so long since religions persecuted people, burning them as heretics, drowning them as witches, that you can't recognize religious persecution when you see it? … What is my single life worth? Despair whispers in my ear: "Not a lot." But I refuse to give in to despair … because … I know that many people do care, and are appalled by the … upside-down logic of the post-fatwa world, in which a … novelist can be accused of having savaged or "mugged" a whole community, becoming its tormentor (instead of its … victim) and the scapegoat for … its discontents…. (What minority is smaller and weaker than a minority of one?)

„I repeat for the last time: to understand me, you'll have to swallow a world.“

—  Salman Rushdie, book Midnight's Children

Midnight's Children (1981)
Context: Who what am I? My answer: I am the sum total of everything that went before me, of all I have been seen done, of everything done-to-me. I am everyone everything whose being-in-the-world affected was affected by mine. I am anything that happens after I've gone which would not have happened if I had not come. Nor am I particularly exceptional in this matter; each "I", everyone of the now-six-hundred-million-plus of us, contains a similar multitude. I repeat for the last time: to understand me, you'll have to swallow a world.

„For many people, I've ceased to be a human being. I've become an issue, a bother, an "affair." … And has it really been so long since religions persecuted people, burning them as heretics, drowning them as witches, that you can't recognize religious persecution when you see it?“

—  Salman Rushdie

Address at Columbia University (1991)
Context: For many people, I've ceased to be a human being. I've become an issue, a bother, an "affair." … And has it really been so long since religions persecuted people, burning them as heretics, drowning them as witches, that you can't recognize religious persecution when you see it? … What is my single life worth? Despair whispers in my ear: "Not a lot." But I refuse to give in to despair … because … I know that many people do care, and are appalled by the … upside-down logic of the post-fatwa world, in which a … novelist can be accused of having savaged or "mugged" a whole community, becoming its tormentor (instead of its … victim) and the scapegoat for … its discontents…. (What minority is smaller and weaker than a minority of one?)

„Nothing really improves us. Whatever improves one person will disimprove another.“

—  Salman Rushdie

Salon interview (1996)
Context: Nothing really improves us. Whatever improves one person will disimprove another. Some people are paralyzed by the consciousness of death, other people live with it. … The fatwa certainly made me think about it a lot more than I ever had. I guess I know I'm going to die, but then, so are you. And one of the things that I thought a lot about at the time of the fatwa and ever since is that quite a few of the people I really care about died during this period, all about the same age as I am, and they were not under a death sentence. They just died, of lung cancer, AIDS, whatever. It occurred to me that you don't need a fatwa, it can happen anytime.

„Islam doesn't have to mean blind faith. It can mean what it always meant in your family, a culture, a civilization, as open-minded as your grandfather was, as delightedly disputatious as your father was. … Don't let the zealots make Muslim a terrifying word, I urged myself; remember when it meant family“

—  Salman Rushdie

Address at Columbia University (1991)
Context: I determined to make my peace with Islam, even at the cost of my pride. Those who were surprised and displeased by what I did perhaps failed to see that … I wanted to make peace between the warring halves of the world, which were also the warring halves of my soul….
The really important conversations I had in this period were with myself.
I said: Salman, you must send a message loud enough to … make ordinary Muslims see that you aren't their enemy, and you must make the West understand a little more of the complexity of Muslim culture …, and start thinking a little less stereotypically…. And I said to myself: Admit it, Salman, the Story of Islam has a deeper meaning for you than any of the other grand narratives. Of course you're no mystic, mister…. No supernaturalism, no literalist orthodoxies … for you. But Islam doesn't have to mean blind faith. It can mean what it always meant in your family, a culture, a civilization, as open-minded as your grandfather was, as delightedly disputatious as your father was. … Don't let the zealots make Muslim a terrifying word, I urged myself; remember when it meant family. …
I reminded myself that I had always argued that it was necessary to develop the nascent concept of the "secular Muslim," who, like the secular Jew, affirmed his membership of the culture while being separate from the theology…. But, Salman, I told myself, you can't argue from outside the debating chamber. You've got to cross the threshold, go inside the room, and then fight for your humanized, historicized, secularized way of being a Muslim.

„The Satanic Verses celebrates hybridity, impurity, intermingling, the transformation that comes of new and unexpected combinations of human beings, cultures, ideas, politics, movies, songs. It rejoices in mongrelization and fears the absolutism of the Pure.“

—  Salman Rushdie, book Imaginary Homelands

Imaginary Homelands (1992)
Context: Those who oppose the novel most vociferously today are of the opinion that intermingling with a different culture will inevitably weaken and ruin their own. I am of the opposite opinion. The Satanic Verses celebrates hybridity, impurity, intermingling, the transformation that comes of new and unexpected combinations of human beings, cultures, ideas, politics, movies, songs. It rejoices in mongrelization and fears the absolutism of the Pure. Melange, hotchpotch, a bit of this and a bit of that is how newness enters the world. It is the great possibility that mass migration gives the world… The Satanic Verses is for change-by-fusion, change-by-conjoining. It is a love song to our mongrel selves.

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„When I was growing up, everyone around me was fond of fooling around with words.“

—  Salman Rushdie

Salon interview (1996)
Context: When I was growing up, everyone around me was fond of fooling around with words. It was certainly common in my family, but I think it is typical of Bombay, and maybe of India, that there is a sense of play in the way people use language. Most people in India are multilingual, and if you listen to the urban speech patterns there you'll find it's quite characteristic that a sentence will begin in one language, go through a second language and end in a third. It's the very playful, very natural result of juggling languages. You are always reaching for the most appropriate phrase.

„So they come up against weird words, and the weird words excite them.“

—  Salman Rushdie

Salon interview (1996)
Context: It’s fun to read things when you don't know all the words. Even children love it. One of the things any great children’s writer will tell you is that children like it if in books designed for their age group there is a vocabulary just slightly bigger than theirs. So they come up against weird words, and the weird words excite them. If you describe a small girl in a story as “loquacious,” it works so much better than “talkative.” And then some little girl will read the book and her sister will be shooting her mouth off and she will say to her sister, “Don't be so loquacious.” It is a whole new weapon in her arsenal.

„There is a point beyond which conciliation looks like capitulation. I do not believe I passed that point, but others have thought otherwise.“

—  Salman Rushdie

Address at Columbia University (1991)
Context: Ibn Rushd's ideas were silenced in their time. And throughout the Muslim world today, progressive ideas are in retreat. Actually Existing Islam reigns supreme, and just as the recently destroyed "Actually Existing Socialism" of the Soviet terror-state was horrifically unlike the utopia of peace and equality of which democratic socialists have dreamed, so also is Actually Existing Islam a force to which I have never given in, to which I cannot submit.
There is a point beyond which conciliation looks like capitulation. I do not believe I passed that point, but others have thought otherwise.

„The Satanic Verses is for change-by-fusion, change-by-conjoining. It is a love song to our mongrel selves.“

—  Salman Rushdie, book Imaginary Homelands

Imaginary Homelands (1992)
Context: Those who oppose the novel most vociferously today are of the opinion that intermingling with a different culture will inevitably weaken and ruin their own. I am of the opposite opinion. The Satanic Verses celebrates hybridity, impurity, intermingling, the transformation that comes of new and unexpected combinations of human beings, cultures, ideas, politics, movies, songs. It rejoices in mongrelization and fears the absolutism of the Pure. Melange, hotchpotch, a bit of this and a bit of that is how newness enters the world. It is the great possibility that mass migration gives the world… The Satanic Verses is for change-by-fusion, change-by-conjoining. It is a love song to our mongrel selves.

„It’s fun to read things when you don't know all the words. Even children love it.“

—  Salman Rushdie

Salon interview (1996)
Context: It’s fun to read things when you don't know all the words. Even children love it. One of the things any great children’s writer will tell you is that children like it if in books designed for their age group there is a vocabulary just slightly bigger than theirs. So they come up against weird words, and the weird words excite them. If you describe a small girl in a story as “loquacious,” it works so much better than “talkative.” And then some little girl will read the book and her sister will be shooting her mouth off and she will say to her sister, “Don't be so loquacious.” It is a whole new weapon in her arsenal.

„Free speech is the whole thing, the whole ball game. Free speech is life itself.“

—  Salman Rushdie

Address at Columbia University (1991)
Context: "Our lives teach us who we are." I have learned the hard way that when you permit anyone else's description of reality to supplant your own — and such descriptions have been raining down on me, from security advisers, governments, journalists, Archbishops, friends, enemies, mullahs — then you might as well be dead. Obviously, a rigid, blinkered, absolutist world view is the easiest to keep hold of, whereas the fluid, uncertain, metamorphic picture I've always carried about is rather more vulnerable. Yet I must cling with all my might to … my own soul; must hold on to its mischievous, iconoclastic, out-of-step clown-instincts, no matter how great the storm. And if that plunges me into contradiction and paradox, so be it; I've lived in that messy ocean all my life. I've fished in it for my art. This turbulent sea was the sea outside my bedroom window in Bombay. It is the sea by which I was born, and which I carry within me wherever I go.
"Free speech is a non-starter," says one of my Islamic extremist opponents. No, sir, it is not. Free speech is the whole thing, the whole ball game. Free speech is life itself.

„Obviously, a rigid, blinkered, absolutist world view is the easiest to keep hold of, whereas the fluid, uncertain, metamorphic picture I've always carried about is rather more vulnerable.“

—  Salman Rushdie

Address at Columbia University (1991)
Context: "Our lives teach us who we are." I have learned the hard way that when you permit anyone else's description of reality to supplant your own — and such descriptions have been raining down on me, from security advisers, governments, journalists, Archbishops, friends, enemies, mullahs — then you might as well be dead. Obviously, a rigid, blinkered, absolutist world view is the easiest to keep hold of, whereas the fluid, uncertain, metamorphic picture I've always carried about is rather more vulnerable. Yet I must cling with all my might to … my own soul; must hold on to its mischievous, iconoclastic, out-of-step clown-instincts, no matter how great the storm. And if that plunges me into contradiction and paradox, so be it; I've lived in that messy ocean all my life. I've fished in it for my art. This turbulent sea was the sea outside my bedroom window in Bombay. It is the sea by which I was born, and which I carry within me wherever I go.
"Free speech is a non-starter," says one of my Islamic extremist opponents. No, sir, it is not. Free speech is the whole thing, the whole ball game. Free speech is life itself.

„Who what am I? My answer: I am the sum total of everything that went before me, of all I have been seen done, of everything done-to-me.“

—  Salman Rushdie, book Midnight's Children

Midnight's Children (1981)
Context: Who what am I? My answer: I am the sum total of everything that went before me, of all I have been seen done, of everything done-to-me. I am everyone everything whose being-in-the-world affected was affected by mine. I am anything that happens after I've gone which would not have happened if I had not come. Nor am I particularly exceptional in this matter; each "I", everyone of the now-six-hundred-million-plus of us, contains a similar multitude. I repeat for the last time: to understand me, you'll have to swallow a world.

„Ibn Rushd's ideas were silenced in their time.“

—  Salman Rushdie

Address at Columbia University (1991)
Context: Ibn Rushd's ideas were silenced in their time. And throughout the Muslim world today, progressive ideas are in retreat. Actually Existing Islam reigns supreme, and just as the recently destroyed "Actually Existing Socialism" of the Soviet terror-state was horrifically unlike the utopia of peace and equality of which democratic socialists have dreamed, so also is Actually Existing Islam a force to which I have never given in, to which I cannot submit.
There is a point beyond which conciliation looks like capitulation. I do not believe I passed that point, but others have thought otherwise.

„Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Etiam egestas wisi a erat. Morbi imperdiet, mauris ac auctor dictum.“

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