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Book review: Languages of Truth by Salman Rushdie

Languages of Truth Essays 2003-2020.

Of late,  Salman Rushdie has been offering us long-winded,  over-garrulous works of fiction, disappointing those of us who have long  been fans of his writing. With LANGUAGES OF TRUTH, a collection of essays comprising various lectures, published articles, introductions to books and exhibition catalogues between 2003 and 2020, he redeems himself. Oh, it`s the usual Rushdie opinion machine but couched in well-laid-out sentences which the reader will appreciate even if they don`t quite agree with all the opinions aired.

The book is rather like the origin story of Salman Rushdie the (award-winning) writer, the man whose family decided to stay back in India after Partition because they felt more Indian than Muslim, how and why he wrote his earlier works like Grimus, Midnight`s Children and Shame.

It`s a reflective tract, sometimes a bit pat in tone, sometimes a not-so-subtle exercise in bragging about close friends in the literary and art world, people like Carrie Fisher, Harold Pinter and Christopher Hitchens. And sometimes, his understatements bring forth a wry smile from the reader, as when he says, `My questioning of the origin story caused problems.` He is talking, of course, about The Satanic Verses.

Then again, when he writes his personal ode to the Bard of Avon, of the years spent under the shadow of the infamous fatwa, of the magic in children`s literature, of the importance of literary freedom, on religion and religious intolerance, it`s the Rushdie of yore that emerges to the fore. The snark is present (as when he demolishes Dan Brown`s Da Vinci Code, his opinion of political strongmen who tend to think of themselves as `god`s anointed,` of Donald Trump, of countries without `a moral floor` ) but not bilious.

The writing is simply splendid and Parts One and Two of the book are absolute treats for readers of literary writing.

Related Links:

Book review: Quichotte by Salman Rushdie

Book review: The Golden House by Salman Rushdie

Book excerpts: Joseph Anton by Salman Rushdie

Book review: Two Years, Eight Months and Twenty-eight Nights by Salman Rushdie


essaysLanguages of Truthliterary essaysPenguinRandomHouseSalman Rushdie

Sheila Kumar • May 11, 2022

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