Literary Birthday – 19 June – Salman Rushdie

Happy Birthday, Salman Rushdie, born 19 June 1947.


  1. A poet’s work is to name the unnameable, to point at frauds, to take sides, start arguments, shape the world, and stop it going to sleep.
  2. When a reader falls in love with a book, it leaves its essence inside him, like radioactive fallout in an arable field, and after that there are certain crops that will no longer grow in him, while other, stranger, more fantastic growths may occasionally be produced.
  3. We are described into corners, and then we must describe ourselves out of corners.
  4. When I was growing up, everyone around me was fond of fooling around with words. It was certainly common in my family, but I think it is typical of Bombay, and maybe of India, that there is a sense of play in the way people use language.
  5. Literature is the one place in any society where, within the secrecy of our own heads, we can hear voices talking about everything in every possible way.
  6. Writers and politicians are natural rivals. Both groups try to make the world in their own images; they fight for the same territory.
  7. If I do have a kind of moral view of the world, which I suppose I do, I should come clean and admit that I do, it’s trying to construct for myself, a sense of the spiritual life of human beings which doesn’t rely on outside validation. Which doesn’t rely on some moral absolute like a god or a devil or a holy book.
  8. One of the extraordinary things about human events is that the unthinkable becomes thinkable.
  9. If you want to tell the untold stories, if you want to give voice to the voiceless, you’ve got to find a language. Which goes for film as well as prose, for documentary as well as autobiography. Use the wrong language, and you’re dumb and blind.
  10. I’ve become more concerned with telling a story as clearly and engagingly as I can.
  11. I do not envy people who think they have a complete explanation of the world, for the simple reason that they are obviously wrong.
  12. What distinguishes a great artist from a weak one is first their sensibility and tenderness; second, their imagination, and third, their industry.
  13. Whenever someone who knows you disappears, you lose one version of yourself. Yourself as you were seen, as you were judged to be. Lover or enemy, mother or friend, those who know us construct us, and their several knowings slant the different facets of our characters like diamond-cutter’s tools. Each such loss is a step leading to the grave, where all versions blend and end.

Salman Rushdie is a British Indian novelist. His second novel, Midnight’s Children, won the Booker Prize in 1981.The Satanic Verses, published in 1988, led to death threats being made against him, including a fatwā issued by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the Supreme Leader of Iran, in 1989. Queen Elizabeth II knighted him for his services to literature in 2007. One of Rushdie‘s most recent books is Joseph Anton: A Memoir, an account of his life in the wake of the controversy over The Satanic Verses.

Source for Image

by Amanda Patterson

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Posted on: 19th June 2013