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Siding with Rushdie

Christopher Hitchens

26 October 1989
The Rushdie​ File 
edited by Lisa Appignanesi and Sara Maitland.
Fourth Estate/ICA, 268 pp., £5.95, July 1989, 0 947795 84 7
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CounterBlasts No 4: Sacred Cows 
by Fay Weldon.
Chatto, 43 pp., £2.99, July 1989, 0 7011 3556 5
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Salman Rushdie​ and the Third World: Myths of the Nation 
by Timothy Brennan.
Macmillan, 203 pp., £29.50, September 1989, 0 333 49020 7
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... bigotry, enlightenment – there are enough pious keywords in play to make anybody spew. An early duty, in the face of this array of sanctimony, is to the obvious. We are not disputing the case of SalmanRushdie because it reminds us of everything else under the sun. We are disputing it because it is unique and unprecedented. I write it down in a verse, before it gets buried in glossary: ‘Salman ...

Diary

Robert Fisk: Salman Rushdie​ and Other Demons

16 March 1989
... First, the necessary caveat. If anyone killed SalmanRushdie, it would be an evil act, a murder that should be condemned by all sane and law-abiding people. It would be a devastating blow at freedom of speech, a disgraceful manifestation of bigotry and ...

Diary

Christopher Hitchens: The Salman Rushdie​ Acid Test

24 February 1994
... more customary patronymic. And, seeking to make his own hommage to the Cordoban synthesis of religious toleration and high learning, and to Averroes in particular, this man decided on the family name Rushdie. His eldest son, Salman, has since managed to keep the name, and himself, alive. He’s also written rather eloquently about religious and cultural fusion in medieval Andalusia. But this famous name ...

Diary

Hilary Mantel: Bookcase Shopping in Jeddah

30 March 1989
... When the SalmanRushdie affair broke, the first thing I thought of was the day we tried to buy a bookcase in Jeddah. Jeddah is Saudi Arabia’s most sophisticated, cosmopolitan city. Compared to the capital, Riyadh, it is ...
4 June 1981
Three Trapped Tigers 
by G. Cabrera Infante.
Picador, 487 pp., £2.95, August 1980, 0 330 26133 9
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... Cuba in 1961. The magazine Lunes de Revolution protests against the censorship of PM, a film about a black woman who sings boleros in Havana’s nighttown. The magazine is closed down forthwith, by that very revolution whose Mondays its title salutes. Lunes’ editor is a 32-year-old writer named Guillermo Cabrera Infante, and the director of the film is his brother, Saba Cabrera. Time-dissolve: four ...

Mole

Salman Rushdie

4 February 1982
Saki: A Life of Hector Hugh Munro 
by A.J. Langguth.
Hamish Hamilton, 366 pp., £12.50, October 1981, 0 241 10678 8
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... Until recently, the only Saki story I had ever read was ‘Filboid Studge, the Story of a Mouse that Helped’. This is the one about the artist Mark Spayley who is wooing the daughter of Duncan Dullamy, ‘the great company inflator’, whose new breakfast food Pipenta ‘could scarcely be called a drug on the market; people bought drugs, but no one bought Pipenta.’ Spayley, the mouse of the title ...

Toto the Villain

Robert Tashman

9 July 1992
The Wizard of Oz 
by Salman Rushdie.
BFI, 69 pp., £5.95, May 1992, 0 85170 300 3
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... are the envy of literary people, were formerly novelists in fact or intention; many serious novelists eagerly adapt their work for the screen. In The Wizard of Oz, a long essay on the famous film, SalmanRushdie has produced his finest piece of writing since his withdrawal from everyday life. It is more vigorously expressed than his essays on fiction and political freedom, and more pertinent to his ...

The Audience Throws Vegetables

Colin Burrow: Salman Rushdie

8 May 2008
The Enchantress of Florence 
by Salman Rushdie.
Cape, 356 pp., £16.99, April 2008, 978 0 224 06163 6
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... Even serious and persistent readers often say they can’t finish SalmanRushdie’s novels. His unfinishability has some obvious causes. Wearyingly encrusted description is the natural mode of the earlier fiction. In Midnight’s Children the central character’s dog dies, but ...

Embracing Islam

Patrick Parrinder

4 April 1991
Imaginary Homelands: Essays and Criticism 1981-1991 
by Salman Rushdie.
Granta, 432 pp., £17.99, March 1991, 9780140142242
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... Our lives teach us who we are,’ SalmanRushdie observed in one of three widely-read and somewhat contradictory statements of faith that he published last year. These are now reprinted at the end of Imaginary Homelands, a compendious collection of ...

Handfuls of Dust

Richard Cronin: Amit Chaudhuri

12 November 1998
Freedom Song 
by Amit Chaudhuri.
Picador, 202 pp., £13.99, August 1998, 0 330 34423 4
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... modest novels about modest people living in the small South Indian town of Malgudi. The completeness of the world he creates is possible only because that world is so circumscribed. Then in 1981 SalmanRushdie published Midnight’s Children, and such a narrow focus no longer seemed possible. Midnight’s Children was impelled by the impossible dream that a single novel might somehow articulate the ...

Calvino

Salman Rushdie

17 September 1981
If on a winter’s night a traveller 
by Italo Calvino, translated by William Weaver.
Secker, 260 pp., £6.95, July 1981, 0 436 08271 3
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The Path to the Nest of Spiders 
by Italo Calvino, translated by Archibald Colquhoun.
Ecco, 145 pp., $4.95, May 1976, 0 912946 31 8
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Our Ancestors 
by Italo Calvino, translated by Archibald Colquhoun.
Picador, 382 pp., £2.95, September 1980, 0 330 26156 8
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Cosmicomics 
by Italo Calvino, translated by William Weaver.
Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 153 pp., $2.95, April 1976, 0 15 622600 6
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Invisible Cities The Castle of Crossed Destinies 
by Italo Calvino, translated by William Weaver.
Picador, 126 pp., £1.25, May 1979, 0 330 25731 5
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... At the beginning of Italo Calvino’s first book for six years, an entirely fictional personage named You, the Reader, buys and settles down with a novel which he firmly believes to be the new Calvino. You prepare to recognise the unmistakable tone of the author. No. You don’t recognise it at all. But now that you think about it, who ever said this author had an unmistakable tone? On the contrary ...

Angel Gabriel

Salman Rushdie

16 September 1982
Chronicle of a Death Foretold 
by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, translated by Gregory Rabassa.
Cape, 122 pp., £5.95, September 1982, 0 224 01990 2
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... We had suspected for a long time that the man Gabriel was capable of miracles, because for many years he had talked too much about angels for someone who had no wings, so that when the miracle of the printing presses occurred we nodded our heads knowingly, but of course the foreknowledge of his sorcery did not release us from its power, and under the spell of that nostalgic witchcraft we arose from ...

Homage to Satyajit Ray

Salman Rushdie

8 March 1990
Satyajit Ray: The Inner Eye 
by Andrew Robinson.
Deutsch, 412 pp., £17.95, November 1989, 0 233 98473 9
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... I can never forget the excitement in my mind after seeing it,’ Akira Kurosawa said about Satyajit Ray’s first film, Pather Panchali (The Song of the Little Road), and it’s true: this movie, made for next to nothing, mostly with untrained actors, by a director who was learning (and making up) the rules as he went along, is a work of such lyrical and emotional force that it becomes, for its ...

Imagine his dismay

Carlos Fraenkel: Salman Rushdie

18 February 2016
Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights 
by Salman Rushdie.
Cape, 286 pp., £18.99, September 2015, 978 1 910702 03 1
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... SalmanRushdie​ ’s latest novel is a version of The Arabian Nights – two years, eight months and 28 nights adds up to 1001 of them. But it’s updated in every way. The climax, set in present-day New York, is ...

Flame-Broiled Whopper

Theo Tait: Salman Rushdie

6 October 2005
Shalimar the Clown 
by Salman Rushdie.
Cape, 398 pp., £17.99, September 2005, 0 224 06161 5
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... idiosyncrasies, patterns of speech. ‘Almost every sentence is a surprise and the surprise is, in general, really an extension of our knowledge or feeling about life, and not simply a trick.’ SalmanRushdie’s two best books manage both these things – the big political picture and the telling individual detail – in different quantities. Midnight’s Children (1981) is a family story first ...

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