Languages of Truth: Essays 2003–2020

Random. May 2021. 368p. ISBN 9780593133170. $28. LIT
In this superb essay collection, Rushdie (Quichotte) examines a wide range of people and topics, including his friendship with Carrie Fisher, the influence of Heroclitus, the legacy of Muhammad Ali, the hijra community (a third gender officially recognized on the Indian subcontinent), Osama Bin Laden’s secret compound, and the creation of over a thousand Hamzanama paintings in 16th-century India. Other essays discuss the works of notable writers, mostly men (Samuel Beckett, Miguel de Cervantes, Gabriel García Márquez, Harold Pinter). Some of Rushdie’s texts originally appeared as lectures, introductions to books or exhibition catalogues, magazine or newspaper articles, or commencement addresses; others are being published for the first time in this book. Rushdie includes essays that describe his efforts to become a successful writer and his recent battle with COVID-19. In other insightful writings, he shares his opinions on the adaptation of books into film; the notion of moral courage; and a flawed, but common assumption that all novels are autobiographies in disguise. Essays have been thoroughly revised and the author often includes postscripts where necessary when revisiting subjects that he originally wrote or lectured about years before. These older writings in particular demonstrate Rushdie’s foresight, predicting the rise of political demagoguery and attacks on truth.
VERDICT Highly recommended for Rushdie fans, as well as readers interested in art, literature, or creative writing.
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