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Cuban Heels with Twisting Tongues

Salman Rushdie, 4 June 1981

Three Trapped Tigers 
by G. Cabrera Infante.
Picador, 487 pp., £2.95, August 1980, 0 330 26133 9
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... Cuba in 1961. The magazine Lunes de Revolution protests against the censorship of PM, a film about a black woman who sings boleros in Havana’s nighttown. The magazine is closed down forthwith, by that very revolution whose Mondays its title salutes. Lunes’ editor is a 32-year-old writer named Guillermo Cabrera Infante, and the director of the film is his brother, Saba Cabrera ...

Mole

Salman Rushdie, 4 February 1982

Saki: A Life of Hector Hugh Munro 
by A.J. Langguth.
Hamish Hamilton, 366 pp., £12.50, October 1981, 0 241 10678 8
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... Until recently, the only Saki story I had ever read was ‘Filboid Studge, the Story of a Mouse that Helped’. This is the one about the artist Mark Spayley who is wooing the daughter of Duncan Dullamy, ‘the great company inflator’, whose new breakfast food Pipenta ‘could scarcely be called a drug on the market; people bought drugs, but no one bought Pipenta ...

Homage to Satyajit Ray

Salman Rushdie, 8 March 1990

Satyajit Ray: The Inner Eye 
by Andrew Robinson.
Deutsch, 412 pp., £17.95, November 1989, 0 233 98473 9
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... I can never forget the excitement in my mind after seeing it,’ Akira Kurosawa said about Satyajit Ray’s first film, Pather Panchali (The Song of the Little Road), and it’s true: this movie, made for next to nothing, mostly with untrained actors, by a director who was learning (and making up) the rules as he went along, is a work of such lyrical and emotional force that it becomes, for its audiences, as potent as their own most deeply personal memories ...

Calvino

Salman Rushdie, 17 September 1981

If on a winter’s night a traveller 
by Italo Calvino, translated by William Weaver.
Secker, 260 pp., £6.95, July 1981, 0 436 08271 3
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The Path to the Nest of Spiders 
by Italo Calvino, translated by Archibald Colquhoun.
Ecco, 145 pp., $4.95, May 1976, 0 912946 31 8
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Our Ancestors 
by Italo Calvino, translated by Archibald Colquhoun.
Picador, 382 pp., £2.95, September 1980, 0 330 26156 8
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Cosmicomics 
by Italo Calvino, translated by William Weaver.
Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 153 pp., $2.95, April 1976, 0 15 622600 6
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Invisible Cities The Castle of Crossed Destinies 
by Italo Calvino, translated by William Weaver.
Picador, 126 pp., £1.25, May 1979, 0 330 25731 5
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... At the beginning of Italo Calvino’s first book for six years, an entirely fictional personage named You, the Reader, buys and settles down with a novel which he firmly believes to be the new Calvino. You prepare to recognise the unmistakable tone of the author. No. You don’t recognise it at all. But now that you think about it, who ever said this author had an unmistakable tone? On the contrary, he is known as an author who changes greatly from one book to the next ...

Angel Gabriel

Salman Rushdie, 16 September 1982

Chronicle of a Death Foretold 
by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, translated by Gregory Rabassa.
Cape, 122 pp., £5.95, September 1982, 0 224 01990 2
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... We had suspected for a long time that the man Gabriel was capable of miracles, because for many years he had talked too much about angels for someone who had no wings, so that when the miracle of the printing presses occurred we nodded our heads knowingly, but of course the foreknowledge of his sorcery did not release us from its power, and under the spell of that nostalgic witchcraft we arose from our wooden benches and garden swings and ran without once drawing breath to the place where the demented printing presses were breeding books faster than fruit-flies, and the books leapt into our hands without our even having to stretch out our arms, the flood of books spilled out of the print room and knocked down the first arrivals at the presses, who succumbed deliriously to that terrible deluge of narrative as it covered the streets and the sidewalks and rose lap-high in the ground-floor rooms of all the houses for miles around, so that there was no one who could escape from that story, if you were blind or shut your eyes it did you no good because there were always voices reading aloud within earshot, we had all been ravished like willing virgins by that tale, which had the quality of convincing each reader that it was his personal autobiography; and then the book filled up our country and headed out to sea, and we understood in the insanity of our possession that the phenomenon would not cease until the entire surface of the globe had been covered, until seas, mountains, underground railways and deserts had been completely clogged up by the endless copies emerging from the bewitched printing press, with the exception, as Melquiades the gypsy told us, of a single northern country called Britain whose inhabitants had long ago become immune to the book disease, no matter how virulent the strain ...

The Prophet’s Hair

Salman Rushdie, 16 April 1981

... Early​ in 19—, when Srinagar was under the spell of a winter so fierce it could crack men’s bones as if they were glass, a young man upon whose cold-pinked skin there lay, like a frost, the unmistakable sheen of wealth was to be seen entering the most wretched and disreputable part of the city, where the houses of wood and corrugated iron seemed perpetually on the verge of losing their balance, and asking in low, grave tones where he might go to engage the services of a dependably professional thief ...

Imaginary Homelands

Salman Rushdie, 7 October 1982

... An old photograph in a cheap frame hangs on a wall of the room where I work. It’s a picture, dating from 1946, of a house into which, at the time of its taking, I had not yet been born. The house is rather peculiar – a three-storied gabled affair with tiled roofs and round towers in two corners, each wearing a pointy tile hat. ‘The past is a foreign country,’ goes the famous opening sentence of L ...

Siding with Rushdie

Christopher Hitchens, 26 October 1989

The Rushdie File 
edited by Lisa Appignanesi and Sara Maitland.
Fourth Estate/ICA, 268 pp., £5.95, July 1989, 0 947795 84 7
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CounterBlasts No 4: Sacred Cows 
by Fay Weldon.
Chatto, 43 pp., £2.99, July 1989, 0 7011 3556 5
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Salman Rushdie and the Third World: Myths of the Nation 
by Timothy Brennan.
Macmillan, 203 pp., £29.50, September 1989, 0 333 49020 7
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... duty, in the face of this array of sanctimony, is to the obvious. We are not disputing the case of Salman Rushdie because it reminds us of everything else under the sun. We are disputing it because it is unique and unprecedented. I write it down in a verse, before it gets buried in glossary: ‘Salman Rushdie was ...

Diary

Robert Fisk: Salman Rushdie and Other Demons, 16 March 1989

... First, the necessary caveat. If anyone killed Salman Rushdie, it would be an evil act, a murder that should be condemned by all sane and law-abiding people. It would be a devastating blow at freedom of speech, a disgraceful manifestation of bigotry and fanaticism. May it never happen. Now some less dramatic thoughts about Mr Rushdie’s predicament ...

Diary

Christopher Hitchens: The Salman Rushdie Acid Test, 24 February 1994

... toleration and high learning, and to Averroes in particular, this man decided on the family name Rushdie. His eldest son, Salman, has since managed to keep the name, and himself, alive. He’s also written rather eloquently about religious and cultural fusion in medieval Andalusia. But this famous name was not ...

Diary

Hilary Mantel: Bookcase Shopping in Jeddah, 30 March 1989

... When the Salman Rushdie affair broke, the first thing I thought of was the day we tried to buy a bookcase in Jeddah. Jeddah is Saudi Arabia’s most sophisticated, cosmopolitan city. Compared to the capital, Riyadh, it is liberal and lively. It is also of course very rich. Its shopping malls, with their icy airconditioning, are temples of marble and glass, of lush greenery and tinkling fountains ...

The Audience Throws Vegetables

Colin Burrow: Salman Rushdie, 8 May 2008

The Enchantress of Florence 
by Salman Rushdie.
Cape, 356 pp., £16.99, April 2008, 978 0 224 06163 6
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... Even serious and persistent readers often say they can’t finish Salman Rushdie’s novels. His unfinishability has some obvious causes. Wearyingly encrusted description is the natural mode of the earlier fiction. In Midnight’s Children the central character’s dog dies, but dogs can’t just die in Rushdie: they have to be abandoned on the other side of town, they have to be cursed, they have to be superhumanly loyal, they have to run after their owner’s car for miles ...

Toto the Villain

Robert Tashman, 9 July 1992

The Wizard of Oz 
by Salman Rushdie.
BFI, 69 pp., £5.95, May 1992, 0 85170 300 3
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... adapt their work for the screen. In The Wizard of Oz, a long essay on the famous film, Salman Rushdie has produced his finest piece of writing since his withdrawal from everyday life. It is more vigorously expressed than his essays on fiction and political freedom, and more pertinent to his situation, in touching as it does on themes of ...

Handfuls of Dust

Richard Cronin: Amit Chaudhuri, 12 November 1998

Freedom Song 
by Amit Chaudhuri.
Picador, 202 pp., £13.99, August 1998, 0 330 34423 4
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... of the world he creates is possible only because that world is so circumscribed. Then in 1981 Salman Rushdie published Midnight’s Children, and such a narrow focus no longer seemed possible. Midnight’s Children was impelled by the impossible dream that a single novel might somehow articulate the experience of the 600 million people living in the ...

Embracing Islam

Patrick Parrinder, 4 April 1991

Imaginary Homelands: Essays and Criticism 1981-1991 
by Salman Rushdie.
Granta, 432 pp., £17.99, March 1991, 9780140142242
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... Our lives teach us who we are,’ Salman Rushdie observed in one of three widely-read and somewhat contradictory statements of faith that he published last year. These are now reprinted at the end of Imaginary Homelands, a compendious collection of book reviews, cultural critiques and political essays written over the last ten years and, for the most part, in much less fraught circumstances ...

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