Interview with Salman Rushdie

From The Independent:

Everyone, fan or foe, invokes their own imaginary Rushdie. We dream him up, and he duly takes shape: as blaspheming apostate for many still-outraged Muslims; as cocky subcontinental pseud for old-school British racists; as martyr to free speech for liberal literati. With the announcement of his knighthood, last June, this parade of straw men swelled to a seething carnival of prejudice and projection. From one corner, the pious haters swung into action: the parliament of Pakistan passed a motion against the honour as an insult to Islam. From another, the gossip-sheet haters seized on rumours of an impending divorce to renew their attritional campaign of “attacks on my physical appearance, as if I’ve ever invested anything in how beautiful I am”. From yet another, the kneejerk-leftist haters matched them all in bile: The Guardian ran a defamatory rant from a Cambridge English don that grossly misrepresented his books, his politics and his ideas with a recklessness that would shame a GCSE-level duffer.

“Truthfully, I don’t get it,” says this hard-working 60-year-old writer, clad in a writer’s comfy sweater, mulling over his burdensome double life as multipurpose scapegoat. “I just don’t understand it. I think I’ve led a serious creative life. All that I’ve tried to do for over 30 years is to be the best writer that I know how to be… It’s as if people don’t see that in some way, and that’s distressing.”


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