By Salman Rushdie
MAY 25, 2021 • 368 Pages
My first introduction to Rushdie was in my banned books course, where I was assigned “The Satanic Verses,” a satirical commentary on migration, religion, and politics. The book was so highly controversial and contested that it led to a fatwa in 2014 issued by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the Supreme Leader of Iran. This ruling called for the death of Rushdie and his publishers, resulting in numerous attempts at Rushdie’s life, bombings in bookstores that held “SV,” and—
8 years later, this year, Rushdie’s brutal stabbing and attack as a result of his writings and lectures that speak out against political and religious tyranny.
This collection of essays explores a myriad of topics from art, to religion, to mythology and culture, to literature and what makes a good story a good story.
I came out of this book having learned much about writing, but also about living. I won’t go so far as to say that this book holds the answers to all of life’s questions, or any at all (although in reference to page 105, “the answer to life, the universe, and everything was, and is, ‘42.’”), rather, I’d say it’s a catalog of Rushdie’s musings which are altogether witty, provocative, insightful, brave, and unabashedly honest. Underlying each essay is the idea of freedom— the idea that all thought should be free. Free to write, free to create, free to discuss, and free to debate.
I will say that some essays were a little overwrought with name droppings (“my good friend *insert celebrity name here*” and “I once meet *insert famous celebrity” here”, etc.) and can be a bit redundant at certain points, but it’s far more enjoyable than not.
Overall, I admire Rushdie for his eloquence, his wit (seriously I laughed out loud so many times while reading this), his intelligence, and most of all for his unwavering advocacy for the truth— or what we believe is the truth according to our own individual realities. I will definitely be revisiting this collection, both for pleasure and for personal development.
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