Kirkus Star


Essays and Criticism, 1981-1991
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Lively, wide-ranging collection of 75 pieces written over the past ten years by the author of The Satanic Verses. Would this collection exist had The Satanic Verses not made the Ayatollah Khomeini's hit parade? Yes. Rushdie has the extra edge of an international mind that acknowledges two political and several literary homelands. His subjects here revolve around the politics of India and Pakistan, censorship, literature, movies, TV, the experience of Indian migrants to Britain, his thoughts on the Thatcher/Foot election, and on writers: Anita Desai, Kipling, V.S. Naipaul, Graham Greene, John le Carre, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Raymond Carver, Saul Bellow, Philip Ruth, Thomas Pynchon, and so on. He comes down hard on the recent spate of British-Indian shows, finding Gandhi, A Passage to India, The Far Pavilions, and The Raj Quartet/The Jewel in the Crown to be guilty of the sins they attack: the Indians do not get equal time while British rule is glamorized; it is the British characters whose stories matter to the writers and filmmakers. He dismantles "Inside the Whale," George Orwell's famous essay defending Henry Miller's political quietism, and attacks the same quietism in Orwell's 1984, to show that "there is no whale. We live in a world without hiding places. . ." He stands up for Bengali filmmaker Satyajit Ray against the Bombay film hacks. He praises Terry Gilliam's "magnificent film of future totalitarianism," Brazil, which combines Franz Kafka with Frank Capra. But perhaps the most eye-opening and affecting piece here is a long talk between Rushdie and Edward Said about Zionism and the nature of being a stateless Palestinian, "the victim of a victim." Rushdie's probing, teasing, intelligent voice is in every sentence; every word he writes feels personal. You can't ask for more than that in an essay.
Pub Date: May 1st, 1991
ISBN: 0140140360
Publisher: Viking
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1991


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NonfictionJOSEPH ANTON by Salman Rushdie
by Salman Rushdie