Wednesday 29 August 2012
Salman Rushdie, Step Across This Line
Due to unpleasant events some time ago, probably everyone in the world knows who Salman Rushdie is. If you don't (well, you might be too young or have lived under a rock for last two decades), google up Satanic Verses. Or fatwa.
I've read a few of Rushdie's novels years ago and I remember kinda liking him, but not really understanding what the fuss is about. In my 100% secular head I still don't. There is, though, one thing I had not known about Salman Rushdie until I read Step Across This Line - he is a superb essayist.
I love essays and other short non-fiction writings and I've become a bit of a connoisseur in this field. I know how to recognise great essays as opposed to mediocre ones.
As I was reading Step Across This Line, I kept muttering to myself: damn, he's good.
The book is a hodgepodge of mixed non-fiction pieces written between 1992 and 2002. There are essays 'proper' - about life, freedom and other serious stuff, but also about plain old rock'n'roll. There are columns re-printed from various newspapers, concerning mainly political and social events. There is also a collection of open letter style publications from the worst fatwa times - my least favourite part.
I do understand why Rushdie might want to see Iran sanctioned to death, I really do. I would probably feel the same in his place. Still, reading all those pages full of hatred and battle calls was not pleasant. I admit Rushdie was a target of outrageous persecution, but I would not like to see the whole country punished for this, so I couldn't applaud his activism. The writer is entitled to his anger, to voicing it, too, but I'm glad no trigger-happy politician rallied to his call.
Anger or no anger, the book is delicious. It seems that even fury is digestible when served by a top class writer.