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Experiments with Truth

Robert Taubman, 7 May 1981

Midnight’s Children 
by Salman Rushdie.
Cape, 446 pp., £6.95, April 1981, 9780224018234
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... Fantasy is one of the big and most successful departments of the novel, but its true flavour in Salman Rushdie seems to me less a matter of invention than of observation. He observes reality being naturally extravagant with a humorous appreciation that is very like Dickens’s – as in a visit to a Delhi tenement: here, near the top, she sees dark ...


Carolyne Wright: Taslima Nasreen gets them going, 8 September 1994

... since the publication in February 1993 of her first short novel, Lajja (Shame, in emulation of Salman Rushdie’s book of the same name). Lajja became a runaway bestseller in Bangladesh and West Bengal despite its hurried composition. As Nasreen herself has declared in interviews, her style is blunt and deliberately provocative, dramatic to the point ...

Closely Observed Trains on a Sea Coast in Bohemia

Christopher Tayler: Rushdie’s Latest, 16 November 2017

The Golden House 
by Salman Rushdie.
Cape, 370 pp., £18.99, September 2017, 978 1 78733 015 3
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... the idea that they may be living in a metropolitan bubble, but René Unterlinden, the narrator of Salman Rushdie’s latest book, has been raised to call the bubble his home. ‘De point is,’ his father – not the only character in the novel with a comic accent – tells him, ‘we like de bubble, and so do you … So dis iss who you are … The boy ...

Oliver’s Riffs

Charles Nicholl, 25 July 1991

Talking It Over 
by Julian Barnes.
Cape, 288 pp., £13.99, July 1991, 0 224 03157 0
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... excavates the story behind Géricault’s famous painting, ‘The Raft of the “Medusa” ’.) Salman Rushdie sums up Barnes’s achievement eloquently: ‘what he offers us is the novel as footnote to history, as subversion of the given, as brilliant elaborate doodle around the margins of what we know we think about what we think we know.’ Another ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Alice in Wonderland’, 25 March 2010

Alice in Wonderland 
directed by Tim Burton.
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... a good deal more real than the pallid place Alice escaped from to come here. This is a film, as Salman Rushdie says of The Wizard of Oz, ‘about the joys of going away, of leaving the greyness and entering the colour’, although the greyness in Alice is purely metaphorical. But maybe I shouldn’t have mentioned The Wizard of Oz, because there are ...

Let’s get the hell out of here

Patrick Parrinder, 29 September 1988

The Satanic Verses 
by Salman Rushdie.
Viking, 547 pp., £12.95, September 1988, 0 670 82537 9
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The Lost Father 
by Marina Warner.
Chatto, 277 pp., £11.95, September 1988, 0 7011 3220 5
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Nice Work 
by David Lodge.
Secker, 277 pp., £10.95, September 1988, 0 436 25667 3
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... Centre. An exhaustion centre is what she will soon be in need of.’ Or a verbal decoke, perhaps? Salman Rushdie, on the other hand, is far too impetuous and fantastical to have written a sentence like that. He, too, goes in for lists, but they are to Lodge’s as a magic spell is to the local business directory. ...


Michael Wood, 7 September 1995

The Moor’s Last Sigh 
by Salman Rushdie.
Cape, 437 pp., £15.99, September 1995, 0 224 03814 1
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... The Moor’s last sigh is several things, both inside and outside Salman Rushdie’s sprawling new novel. It is the defeated farewell of the last Moorish ruler in Spain, the Sultan Boabdil leaving his beloved Granada in 1492, a year also known for other travels. It is Othello’s last gasp of jealousy and violence ...

‘It didn’t need to be done’

Tariq Ali: The Muslim Response, 5 February 2015

... anyone else. He had no such compunctions when the Ayatollah Khomeini pronounced a fatwa sentencing Salman Rushdie to death, and was still going on about it in 2006 on al-Jazeera. ‘If the faithful had carried out Ayatollah Khomeini’s injunction and killed the apostate Rushdie,’ he said on that occasion, ‘the ...

Willesden Fast-Forward

Daniel Soar: Zadie Smith, 21 September 2000

White Teeth 
by Zadie Smith.
Hamish Hamilton, 462 pp., £12.99, January 2000, 9780241139974
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... divorced, resident of Willesden. So she did go to Cambridge, but then there’s always a catch. Salman Rushdie called White Teeth ‘fizzing’ – and it’s been called many similar things since – which may sound a little misplaced with its hint of champagne, but it captures something of the boldness and variety of a novel that is 462 pages long ...

Nit, Sick and Bore

India Knight: The Mitfords, 3 January 2002

The Mitford Girls: The Biography of an Extraordinary Family 
by Mary Lovell.
Little, Brown, 611 pp., £20, September 2001, 0 316 85868 4
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Nancy Mitford: A Memoir 
by Harold Acton.
Gibson Square, 256 pp., £16.99, September 2001, 1 903933 01 3
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... Donk’ and their third ‘The Mong’, or, decades later, when the fatwa was declared on Salman Rushdie, wear a giant home-made badge saying ‘I AM Salman Rushdie’? Like it or not, the joke is pure Mitford (as was Decca’s voice, described by Philip Toynbee as ‘a curiously cadenced sing-song which ...

Not Entirely Like Me

Amit Chaudhuri: Midnight at Marble Arch, 4 October 2007

The Reluctant Fundamentalist 
by Mohsin Hamid.
Hamish Hamilton, 184 pp., £14.99, March 2007, 978 0 241 14365 0
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... Various covers of past issues were on display, I seem to recall; one of them had a photograph of Salman Rushdie, which I looked at disbelievingly, as you might at someone you’d known as a child, who’d become famous for some unforeseeable feat, like holding their breath for ten minutes underwater, or journeying to Jupiter; for the fatwa had been ...

The First Bacchante

Lorna Sage: ‘The Ground Beneath Her Feet’, 29 April 1999

The Ground Beneath Her Feet 
by Salman Rushdie.
Cape, 575 pp., £18, April 1999, 0 224 04419 2
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... and changed himself, instead of being the helpless subject of a pretty tale of metamorphosis. Salman Rushdie’s new novel is full of such Neoplatonic jokes (though this isn’t one of them). The Ground beneath Her Feet is vertiginous, perilous, on the edge, because it’s all about pushing beyond the author’s Other-love, and the techniques he has ...

Through Their Eyes

Theo Tait: Abdulrazak Gurnah remembers Zanzibar, 7 July 2005

by Abdulrazak Gurnah.
Bloomsbury, 262 pp., £16.99, May 2005, 0 7475 7756 0
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... writers for whom lost homelands and hyphenated identities appear inspiring, even rather fun – Salman Rushdie, for example. But, perhaps inevitably, Gurnah’s experiences seem to have been devastating. The regrets and guilt of the exile, the divided loyalties of the colonial scholarship boy, prejudice and alienation in Britain: these are the constant ...

Short Cuts

Daniel Soar: The Hitchens Principle, 21 March 2019

... argued fiercely about the evils of radical Islam at the time of the fatwa against his good friend Salman Rushdie, and he was pro-intervention in Bosnia. But 9/11 ‘exhilarated’ him and gave him a new sense of purpose. It also, I think, made him more than just the single most influential polemicist acting on behalf of the war-prosecutorial ...

Living in the Aftermath

Michael Gorra, 19 June 1997

The God of Small Things 
by Arundhati Roy.
Flamingo, 340 pp., £15.99, June 1997, 0 00 225586 3
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... and cruel as well. Too much new Indian fiction has carried the birthmark of Midnight’s Children; Salman Rushdie himself, in the Preface to his recent Vintage Book of Indian Writing,* admits that his successors can seem marked by an ‘excessive Rushdie-itis’. How could they not, when even an older writer like Anita ...

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