France 24 interviews Salman Rushdie

Salman Rushdie has a “new” book (see below), although it’s actually a year old. And review have been mixed (see this versus this, for example). I haven’t read it, so readers who have should weigh in below.  This interview with France 24’s Marc Perelman is nominally about the book, but really deals with a number of diverse topics, including religion (according to Rushdie, it’s “a thing that the human race needs to grow out of”), the need to call Islamic terrorism “Islamic,” burkinis and hijabs, and, of course, his book. It’s worth a listen, though it’s not the most stimulating interview I’ve heard.


h/t: Leon


  1. Kevin
    Posted September 13, 2016 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    Well said. The burkina is oppressive and repulsive. It should never be banned. Its presence is a bittersweet reminder that some women are still willing to accept male domination. Time to lose the imaginary daddy.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted September 13, 2016 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

      Yes. I liked the way he expressed the issue too. It is a garment that demonstrates the oppression of women within Islam, but at the same time it should not be banned.

      The burkini is a symptom of a much bigger problem (the legitimization of the oppression and abuse of women using religion as the excuse), and that must be addressed at its root.

  2. Posted September 13, 2016 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

    I haven’t read that book, but I’ve read Midnight’s Children, Shame, and The Satanic Verses. I loved them all. Midnight’s Children is a masterpiece. Before starting I was worried that his magical realism style would rub me the wrong way, but he does it so well, I ended up really enjoying it. I will continue to read his novels. I think he is a fantastic writer. I loved his memoir, Joseph Anton, as well.

    • Isaac
      Posted September 13, 2016 at 10:48 pm | Permalink

      Say more about your aversion to magical realism, please. I think I may have the same problem with it.

      • Posted September 14, 2016 at 11:45 am | Permalink

        I figured anything too unrealistic would ruin the book for me. If it’s supposed to take place in the real world (as opposed to Middle Earth, or something), I would have a very hard time with supernatural events. I thought it would just ruin the story for me. But Rushdie uses it as a vehicle, not an end. I especially liked Midnight’s Children. And he also often uses it in a sort of “unreliable narrator” kind of way. He’ll describe something apparently magical happening, but then hedge and say, “did it really happen that way? Maybe? Maybe not. Who can know for sure?” In the end, it doesn’t even matter if it’s believable or not; it makes its point. And that’s why it’s there.

        Also, Rushdie is a storyteller. Sometimes a good story is just a good story – it doesn’t have to be real.

  3. Christopher
    Posted September 13, 2016 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

    I own three of Rushdie’s books, two of which I have attempted (yes, including THAT book), but I must confess I have trouble with magical realism, as i believe it is called. Well, I have trouble with the magical part. I don’t know why, but I think back in my 20’s I would have devoured everything by him had I been exposed. I have so much trouble surrendering to the magical twists, yes, but I have this issue with all fiction these days, yet I can watch fantasy, sci-fi and old horror movies with no trouble at all.

    Does anyone else have this issue, the older you get, the less fiction you can handle? I recall Darwin turning away from novels in his old age, but I’ve not heard this from anyone else (and really, of all the things to have in common with Charles Darwin…!)

    As for his interview, I agree that muslims and liberals both need to admit to what terrorism is, and call it by name. Pretending it’s not won’t stop it, prevent it, and it won’t save us.

    • Billy Bl.
      Posted September 13, 2016 at 10:04 pm | Permalink

      That’s one of the reasons why I like Rushie – his novels contain elements of the unreal (“magical realism” seems a bit oxymoronic to me). Thanks for the heads up about this book. I didn’t know he had written another.
      I’m getting on in years but still read fiction every night in bed.

    • Isaac
      Posted September 13, 2016 at 10:57 pm | Permalink

      ” I have so much trouble surrendering to the magical twists, yes, but I have this issue with all fiction these days”

      Well, not all fiction contains magical twists. You won’t find any magic in Ian McEwan or Nabokov. This is what in part what differentiates literary fiction from commercial genre fiction, lowbrow vs highbrow, etc. (as I understand).

      • Christopher
        Posted September 14, 2016 at 6:26 am | Permalink

        Yes, I know not all fiction contains magical twists and such, but I found that for the most part, the fiction I could read was quite closely based on real life and that I was happier just reading about something that actually happened rather than reality pieced together with made-up bits.

        I did try to read Lolita last summer, but felt really creeped out by it and couldn’t continue. I’ve read another of Nabokov’s novels and mostly enjoyed it. I would consider myself a fan of Hemingway, Steinbeck, and many others but I don’t read them any more and fiction just can’t keep my attention. This isn’t meant as an indictment of fiction, just me sharing my weirdness. I’d like to be able to read more of it and experience what others claim to experience. That is all.

        • Billy Bl.
          Posted September 14, 2016 at 7:48 am | Permalink

          Don’t bother with Nabokov’s “Invitation to a Beheading”, then. It’s very Kafkaesque.

          • Larry Cook
            Posted September 14, 2016 at 8:35 am | Permalink

            Just because a guy can find “himself transformed in his bed into a horrible vermin” doesn’t mean Kafka uses magical twists. Oh. Yes, it does. But it sure is creepy.

            • Isaac
              Posted September 16, 2016 at 8:02 am | Permalink

              That’s not magical, at least not in the sense we’re discussing here. Magical realism is not explicitly fictional.

              One website describes it thus:

              “In Latin America, the continent from which the genre of magical realism originated, there is an attitude among certain portions of the population that anything can happen. In this way, magical realism is closely connected to the Catholic religion, which believes in miracles and other spontaneous and indescribable phenomena. The genre of magical realism is defined as a literary genre in which fantastical things are treated not just as possible, but also as realistic.”

    • duncan
      Posted September 14, 2016 at 3:21 am | Permalink

      About a 4 or 5 years ago, at the age of 38ish I realised I was exclusively reading non-fiction after being a voracious fiction reader since childhood. I think what happened for me was a combination of a couple of novels which had been recommended but which I found really difficult to get through and a dramatic reduction in leisure time. I had to introduce a quota system to get out of the non-fiction only situation!

      • Christopher
        Posted September 14, 2016 at 6:28 am | Permalink

        Glad I’m not the only one, but we seem to be a very small minority.

      • Posted September 14, 2016 at 8:08 am | Permalink

        Me three. With a few local (in time) exceptions, I still read about 90% non-fiction.

    • Posted September 14, 2016 at 11:33 am | Permalink

      I have less of a tolerance for fiction than I used to when I was younger. On the other hand, when I *do* read it, I seem to pick out more “interesting bits” (cultural references, etc.)

  4. David Evans
    Posted September 14, 2016 at 4:18 am | Permalink

    I read this book and enjoyed it. It’s not my favorite of his – I found it too episodic and confusing plotwise – but very entertaining. It is more magical-realist than most of his work. In that respect I think it marks a return to the style of his early work, Grimus.

  5. Posted September 14, 2016 at 8:14 am | Permalink

    I am not much of a fiction reader; but have enjoyed some of it very much. As others have noted here, I have moved to almost all non-fiction reading.

    I tried to read what is maybe his most famous (after The Satanic Verses) book, Midnight’s Children. I read about 75% waiting and waiting for the good part to start.* Never did.

    I do not like that style of writing, at all. I can sort of admire it from a distance; but it made no connection to me at all. (I’ve spent a fair bit of time traveling in Asia for enjoyment, mostly by foot and bicycle, so the cultures are not completely foreign to me.)

    I recently read his Joseph Anton which I liked pretty well; but I’ve read much better autobiographies and memoirs.

  6. Posted September 14, 2016 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    Regarding fiction generally, the book I enjoyed most recently and can highly recommend is: The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion. I have not read the sequel (and likely won’t — very wary of sequels, always); but the first book was very entertaining.

    Also Killer Angels by Michael Shaara.

    I also recently read The Little Sister by Raymond Chandler. it was fairly entertaining in a very dated and cliché sort of way.

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