In Imaginary Homelands, Salman Rushdie presents ten years’ worth of concentrated thought on topics from the most cherished literary traditions and authors of India, Europe, and America to the politics of oppression, the joy of film and television, and the enduring value of the imagination. Writing with lively and intelligent insight—from the provocative, to the humorous, to the deeply profound—Rushdie demonstrates why he is celebrated as one of our greatest literary minds.
Rushdie calls his controversial novel The Satanic Verses "a migrant's-eye view of the world," and indeed the theme of cultural transplantation informs many of the 75 essays and reviews gathered in this impressive collection. Whether he is analyzing racial prejudice in Britain or surveying an India riven by fundamentalism and politics of religious hatred, he writes as an impartial observer, a citizen of the world. Subtle and witty, these concise, eloquent pieces are a pleasure to read. Rushdie's wide-ranging sympathies range from Grace Paley's stories to Thomas Pynchon's political allegories. He situates such writers as Gunter Grass, John le Carre and Mario Vargas Llosa in a political context. Along with a devastating review of the movie Gandhi and a withering portrayal of Margaret Thatcher's class-ridden, jingoist Britain, there are two resounding replies (both written last year) to critics of The Satanic Verses : Rushdie explains the book's intentions and defends the freedom of the writer.