Imaginary Homelands Essay - Critical Essays

Imaginary Homelands

Even before THE SATANIC VERSES provoked international controversy, Salman Rushdie had established himself as one of the most important writers in contemporary Britain. His second novel, MIDNIGHT’S CHILDREN (1980), was awarded the prestigious Booker prize; his third, SHAME (1983), was also highly praised. Throughout the 1980’s, Rushdie also wrote essays, eloquently and often: about the politics of religion and race in Margaret Thatcher’s Britain, Indira Gandhi’s India, and Zia ul-Haq’s Pakistan; about writers and books from India and Pakistan, Africa, Britain, Europe, South America, and the United States; about the vocation of the writer and the powers of literature, the potential of the imagination and the dangers of censorship; and, repeatedly, about migration as the archetypal experience of the twentieth century. IMAGINARY HOMELANDS brings most of these essays together with the several major statements he has written in the wake of THE SATANIC VERSES to form an extraordinary intellectual autobiography.

Migration—losing one country, language, and culture and finding oneself forced to come to terms with another place, another way of speaking and thinking, another view of reality—is Salman Rushdie’s great theme. Metamorphosis is its metaphor. And reflections on migration and metamorphosis permeate these essays as thoroughly as embodiments of them populate his novels, making many of these pieces essential statements about contemporary urban...

(The entire section is 424 words.)