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Today in Literature

June 19, 2009

19 June, 1947: Indian-born author Salman Rushdie was born.  He was born a mere two months before India gained its independence from Gret Britian and this cronological proxemity served as an influence for his Booker Prize winning novel, Midnight’s Children.

Rushdie is, perhaps, best known for his novel The Satanic Verses which earned (that’s probably not the best choice of words, but I’ll go with it) him a death fatwa from Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini for committing blasphemy against Islam.  Rushdie was forced into hiding and was granted constant protection by the British government during his hiding.  The fatwa sparked violence across the globe but also wide-spread sympathy for the author. Hanif Kureishi, a personal favorite, used the controversy as a central theme of his novel, The Black Album.

My favorite piece by Rushdie is his essay titled “Imaginary Homelands,” collected in his similarily titled book published in 1991.  In the essay he tells of the struggle he, and similarily situated authors, accurately depicting their homelands.  Eventually, Rushdie comes to the conclusion that his vision of India is, somehow, more accutate than one who has lived his or whole life there.  Because he is an outside viewer, with insider information, his vision of the homeland is fractured, but more nuanced and whole than would be possible were he to have only lived in the land of his fathers.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. June 20, 2009 8:30 am

    I was talking to a friend who works in HU’s library yesterday, and she told me that they have to keep Satanic Verses behind the counter because students either file complaints about it being on the shelves or they simply take it off the shelf and throw it away! Sad, isn’t it?

  2. June 20, 2009 9:44 am

    What!?! Either Harding’s Muslim population has grown both in number and outrage, or some people have no idea what the book’s about. That’s just incredible.

  3. June 20, 2009 9:58 am

    I’m pretty sure it’s the latter. On a mission to keep the bubble safe, you know.

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