24 June, 2021

In Exile From Himself

Rushdie still shows streaks of that old subversive. But he's a lapsed rebel.

R. Prasad
In Exile From Himself

As the knighthood furore dies down, two observations hold good. First, Salman Rushdie remains one of the great English-language novelists of the last century. Second, those who use 'offended sensitivities' to create political unrest do no favours to their community.

Rushdie has deservedly won recognition for his best work. Though no prize comes without political baggage, he may yet be in the running for a Nobel. What the knighthood and ensuing outcry tell us about our times is that a once visionary and complex writer has been transformed into a pallid celebrity, people who are famous mainly for being famous. (Rushdie's recent novels, where he is too busy being a pastiche of himself to actually write well, indicate a preoccupation with celebrity culture). Meanwhile, those claiming to represent hurt Muslim sentiments now resemble electronic puppets—only a provocative push of the button is needed to set off a destructive frenzy. Why walk into the deliberate trap every time with such cooperative willingness?

Although Rushdie is no...

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