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For all their permeability, the borders snaking across the world have never been of greater importance. This is the dance of history in our age: slow, slow, quick, quick, slow, back and forth and from side to side, we step across these fixed and shifting lines. —from Part IV With astonishing range and depth, the essays, speeches, and opinion pieces assembled in this book ch For all their permeability, the borders snaking across the world have never been of greater importance. This is the dance of history in our age: slow, slow, quick, quick, slow, back and forth and from side to side, we step across these fixed and shifting lines. —from Part IV With astonishing range and depth, the essays, speeches, and opinion pieces assembled in this book chronicle a ten-year intellectual odyssey by one of the most important, creative, and respected minds of our time. Step Across This Line concentrates in one volume Salman Rushdie’s fierce intelligence, uncanny social commentary, and irrepressible wit—about soccer, The Wizard of Oz, and writing, about fighting the Iranian fatwa and turning with the millennium, and about September 11, 2001. Ending with the eponymous, never-before-published speeches, this collection is, in Rushdie’s words, a “wake-up call” about the way we live, and think, now.


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For all their permeability, the borders snaking across the world have never been of greater importance. This is the dance of history in our age: slow, slow, quick, quick, slow, back and forth and from side to side, we step across these fixed and shifting lines. —from Part IV With astonishing range and depth, the essays, speeches, and opinion pieces assembled in this book ch For all their permeability, the borders snaking across the world have never been of greater importance. This is the dance of history in our age: slow, slow, quick, quick, slow, back and forth and from side to side, we step across these fixed and shifting lines. —from Part IV With astonishing range and depth, the essays, speeches, and opinion pieces assembled in this book chronicle a ten-year intellectual odyssey by one of the most important, creative, and respected minds of our time. Step Across This Line concentrates in one volume Salman Rushdie’s fierce intelligence, uncanny social commentary, and irrepressible wit—about soccer, The Wizard of Oz, and writing, about fighting the Iranian fatwa and turning with the millennium, and about September 11, 2001. Ending with the eponymous, never-before-published speeches, this collection is, in Rushdie’s words, a “wake-up call” about the way we live, and think, now.

30 review for Step Across This Line: Collected Non Fiction, 1992 2002

  1. 5 out of 5

    Charissa

    I finally returned to this book and decided to stop approaching it by doggedly slogging through the first 4/5ths of it in order to "earn" reading what I bought it for: what Rushie had to say after the Sept 11, 2001 attacks on the US. Boy am I glad I did. Here is a link to what he wrote in just the month following the attacks: http://www.randomhouse.com/boldtype/0... One month later and he's already sorting through the heart of the matter, unflinchingly beginning even then to turn over stones... wh I finally returned to this book and decided to stop approaching it by doggedly slogging through the first 4/5ths of it in order to "earn" reading what I bought it for: what Rushie had to say after the Sept 11, 2001 attacks on the US. Boy am I glad I did. Here is a link to what he wrote in just the month following the attacks: http://www.randomhouse.com/boldtype/0... One month later and he's already sorting through the heart of the matter, unflinchingly beginning even then to turn over stones... what's under here? Salman Rushdie, although at times you painfully reserved (must be that British education) in the end your Indian upbringing bursts through and you touch the red hot burning core of humanity. What an incandescent combination of form and freedom. Everything that follows his October 2001 column just continues to delve deeper and deeper into the intricacies of living in the Post-9/11 world. Which made going back and reading the earlier portions of the book that much richer to me. For some reason the context of now, makes then open up. There really is no rhyme or reason to my brain sometimes. In the following days I want to post excerpts from the essays and my ruminations on them. For now, it being the wee hours, I will say: read it. His even and relentless gaze into the core of our current affairs is a beacon of sanity in our troubled time.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Punit Soni

    Somewhere in the course of this collection of his non-fiction works, Rushdie says, "[we].. are like a child picking shells on the beach never noticing the huge ocean of magnificient beauty right in front of it..". I sit mesmerized, looking around myself in awe, wondering where to start and where to end. When there is so much to know, so much that intrigues and so much that enraptures, there is sometimes a real danger of absorbing nothing or worse, wasting one's time in indecision. This book is l Somewhere in the course of this collection of his non-fiction works, Rushdie says, "[we].. are like a child picking shells on the beach never noticing the huge ocean of magnificient beauty right in front of it..". I sit mesmerized, looking around myself in awe, wondering where to start and where to end. When there is so much to know, so much that intrigues and so much that enraptures, there is sometimes a real danger of absorbing nothing or worse, wasting one's time in indecision. This book is like the world around us, profoundly euridite, exhaustingly diverse and sometimes almost ecstatically egoistical. As if revelling in its abiity to take us on this whirlwind tour through Rushdie's thoughts. The celebrated writer in his unique style captures the essense of the demons striking at the roots of humanity in today's times. The one overriding theme of this book is his perennial almost feverish exhortions to push the frontiers of our humanity, to express ourselves in all of our vain, silly, good, bad, notorious and imaginitive glory, to "step across the line". To actually not lose in our victory by giving in to fear of the hands muffling our mouths determined not to let the voices be heard. Rushdie is simply a magnificient writer and I write this in all my twenty six year old idealistic ignorance. Step Across The Line is, mildly put, an eclectic collection of essays, notes and features on topics as diverse as Wizard of Oz to English Soccer to the 9-11. If intelligence has sex appeal, then Rushdie is the quintessential Mata Hari or even better, a reader's Marlyn Monroe forever ready to beguile us with the flowing skirts of his imagination revealed by the gust of wind which is his writing.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Kristin

    Rushdie has been hit or miss for me. I devoured Haroun and the Sea of Stories; savored Shalimar the Clown and The Ground Beneath Her Feet. but I can't seem to make myself get into Midnight's Children, I try and I stall. I've read about have of The Moor's Last Sigh and don't really mind that I don't know how it ends. I've ceased to expect much from Rushdie aside from his wonderful prose. Maybe I'll be drawn in to the story, maybe not. Before reading this I'd never attempted his nonfiction, I'm no Rushdie has been hit or miss for me. I devoured Haroun and the Sea of Stories; savored Shalimar the Clown and The Ground Beneath Her Feet. but I can't seem to make myself get into Midnight's Children, I try and I stall. I've read about have of The Moor's Last Sigh and don't really mind that I don't know how it ends. I've ceased to expect much from Rushdie aside from his wonderful prose. Maybe I'll be drawn in to the story, maybe not. Before reading this I'd never attempted his nonfiction, I'm not sure I'd ever even read an interview with him. So I had no idea what I was in for. I was enthralled: the collection is a mishmash of literary crit, political and social commentary, and the migrant experience. I saw The Wizard of Oz through news eyes, discovered new authors I'm curious to read, I learned more about Indian politics, the Indian/Pakistan conflict, and read the nonfiction version of a fictional scene in The Ground Beneath Her Feet. It was an illuminating and interesting read and it whetted my appetite for Rushdie and all things India.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Rāhul

    This is a collection of various Rushdie pieces, broadly about India, Islam, America and literary topics; through the fatwa years and after 9/11. The easy humor Rushdie finds in terrible times is disarming. The final essay about frontiers, with evocative passages on what it means to straddle frontiers with an unwanted passport, is poignant, as is the essay on his homecoming to India after the fatwa controversy cooled. With the benefit of hindsight, one often finds the cosmopolitan liberalism info This is a collection of various Rushdie pieces, broadly about India, Islam, America and literary topics; through the fatwa years and after 9/11. The easy humor Rushdie finds in terrible times is disarming. The final essay about frontiers, with evocative passages on what it means to straddle frontiers with an unwanted passport, is poignant, as is the essay on his homecoming to India after the fatwa controversy cooled. With the benefit of hindsight, one often finds the cosmopolitan liberalism informing many of his articles collected here rather naive and proved wrong by events to come, but they are still compelling in their sincerity.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Ryan

    Worth the buy purely for the long essay on The Wizard of Oz.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Georgia Roybal

    Salman Rushdie is one of my favorite authors. This book of essays gives his thoughts on a wide variety of subjects. I especially was interested in the section including his descriptions of his life under the fatwa. I want to include some quotes from the book. The first is a precious description of the TaJ Mahal, something agreed to be pretty much indescribable. "I had been skeptical about the visit. One of the legends of the Taj is that the hands of the master masons who built it were cut off by t Salman Rushdie is one of my favorite authors. This book of essays gives his thoughts on a wide variety of subjects. I especially was interested in the section including his descriptions of his life under the fatwa. I want to include some quotes from the book. The first is a precious description of the TaJ Mahal, something agreed to be pretty much indescribable. "I had been skeptical about the visit. One of the legends of the Taj is that the hands of the master masons who built it were cut off by the emperor, so that they could never build anything lovelier. Another is that the mausoleum was constructed in secrecy behind high walls, and a man who tried to sneak a preview was blinded for his interest in architecture. My personal imagined Taj was somewhat tarnished by these cruel tales. The building itself left my skepticism in shreds, however. Announcing itself as itself, insisting with absolute force on it sovereign authority, it simply obliterated the million million counterfeits of it and glowing filled, once and forever, the place in the mind previously occupied by its simulacra. And this, finally, is why the Taj Mahal must be seen: to remind us that the world is real, that the sound is truer than the echo, the original more forceful than its image in a mirror. The beauty of beautiful things is still able, in these image-saturated times, to transcend imitations. And the Taj Mahal is, beyond the power of words to say it, a lovely thing, perhaps the loveliest of thing." About love of country, he says: "...my characters have frequently flown west from India, but in novel after novel their author's imagination has returned to it. This, perhaps, is what it means to love a country: that its shape is also yours, the shape of the way ou think and feel and dream. That you can never really leave." Rushdie's characteristic humor is also evident in the following: "Down into the dirt we tumble, in the name of the gentle Christ." President Clinton, who reportedly prayed with his spiritual advisers while the impeachment vote was being taken, is nos slouch in the faux department himself." "No amount of Western hypocrisy can come close to Saddam Hussein's faux-Islam and the crimes committed in its name. Ye religious zealots have the nerve to accuse god-free secularists of lacking moral principles." "...whoever we are, friend or faux." "Yes, all right, on February 14 it will be ten years since I received my unfunny Valentine." (speaking of the day the fatwa was announced) "Speak and I risk deafening the world to those other utterances, my books, written in my true language, the language of literature. I risk helping to conceal the real Salman behind the smoky, sulfurous Rushdie of the Affair. I have led two lives: one blighted by hatred and caught up in this dire business, which I'm trying to leave behind, and the life of a free man, freely doing his work. Two lives, but non I can afford to lose, for one loss would end both." Some thoughts on writing: "A writer's injuries are his strengths, and from his wounds will flow his sweetest, most startling dreams." Some thoughts on the fatwa: "But these dark anniversaries of the appalling Valentine I was sent in 1989 have also been times to reflect upon the countervailing value of love. Love feels more and more like the only subject." "What happened in India, happened in God's name. The problem's name is god." "So freedom is now to be defended against those too poor to deserve its benefits by the edifices and procedures of totalitarianism."

  7. 4 out of 5

    Phrodrick

    Sir Salmon Rushdie is one of my most favorite, still living writers. The famous and illegal fatwa against him is by now a residual threat. It was declared at some point during the writing of the collection of essays in: Step Across this Line. Remembering how real this threat was and how readily some folks wanted to blame the victim add to the poignancy of this volume. Introduction done... These are wonderful essays. As the title suggests the essays are about the many kinds of borders a person can Sir Salmon Rushdie is one of my most favorite, still living writers. The famous and illegal fatwa against him is by now a residual threat. It was declared at some point during the writing of the collection of essays in: Step Across this Line. Remembering how real this threat was and how readily some folks wanted to blame the victim add to the poignancy of this volume. Introduction done... These are wonderful essays. As the title suggests the essays are about the many kinds of borders a person can cross. He begins with the fictional border Dorthey crosses to arrive in the lad of Oz. I had never seriously considered this story before. I had never before thought that the Wizard of Oz was worthy of serious consideration. Rushdie reminded me of the value of thinking about traditional children's stories. I will never think of the Oz story the same way. Such is the power of any good essayist. Among the other boarders he will cross are death, politics, literature and fame. Here is one of the first essays Sit Salmon will write about his cross into hiding as prisoner of conscious. It is noteworthy that his concerns and gratitude include the security officers who shared his risks and lost time with family members to keep him safe. There will be several essays about terrorism. Given that he wore a target for enemies of free speech and human dignity to aim their killing weapons, he is allowed to speak on this topic. He speaks not merely from his passion and his personal involvement, but from a vastly intelligent mind. The recounting of the efforts to adopt Midnight's Children into a movie, or a miniseries was something of a tease. This was one of his better novels, (not my favorite but up there) if either the movie or series has been placed on film, it has not made it to America or to American TV. Essays here range from as few as two pages to about 30. Roughly 60 essays total. The threat of Fatwa aside some are lighthearted others personal to the point of being domestic (On Leavened Bread); too many for individual comment here. What comes through is the depth and breadth of a man who knows how to write. This book is recommend on the merits of the use of language and for the insight into the mind of a very thoughtful -thought-filled writer.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Patrick McCoy

    I previous enjoyed reading Salman Rushdie’s first book of essays Imaginary Homelands, so I thought I would also read Step Across This Line: Collected Essays from 1992-2002. I also enjoyed many of the essays in this volume, however, many of them were concerned with personal freedom and Islam due to this experience of having gone underground to avoid the fatawa that was on his head-which is completely understandable given the situation. However, some of his points are repeated too frequently in th I previous enjoyed reading Salman Rushdie’s first book of essays Imaginary Homelands, so I thought I would also read Step Across This Line: Collected Essays from 1992-2002. I also enjoyed many of the essays in this volume, however, many of them were concerned with personal freedom and Islam due to this experience of having gone underground to avoid the fatawa that was on his head-which is completely understandable given the situation. However, some of his points are repeated too frequently in these writings. I most enjoyed his essays about other writers and literature the most. For example his defense of Granta magazine’s Best Young Novelists for 1993 (Rushdie had been named one on the 1983 list). I also enjoyed his essays about India: ”Gandhi, Now” (exposes the real man behind the myth) / “The Taj Mahal” / “A Dream Of Glorious Return.” Some of the column he wrote for The New Yorker were entertaining as well-his use of Shaggy’s infectious song-“It Wasn’t Me.” I was also impressed by “Step Across This Line” from the Tanner Lectures on Human values at Yale University from 2002.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Paige

    Oh my. This is the first of Rushdie's writing I've read. I read it in bits and pieces over the course of a week, staying with a friend up in the Northwest Territories. The essays were brilliant, each one thought-provoking, readable without being dumbed-down, and witty. Likewise, the fourth section pieces on frontiers and ideas - incredible, and absolutely warrant a re-read (or three) at a later point in time. I knew only the basic details of the 'Rushdie affair' before I started this, so I found Oh my. This is the first of Rushdie's writing I've read. I read it in bits and pieces over the course of a week, staying with a friend up in the Northwest Territories. The essays were brilliant, each one thought-provoking, readable without being dumbed-down, and witty. Likewise, the fourth section pieces on frontiers and ideas - incredible, and absolutely warrant a re-read (or three) at a later point in time. I knew only the basic details of the 'Rushdie affair' before I started this, so I found the middle two sections informative, since I've not been over-saturated with the topic before. I'm glad this was my introduction to Rushdie, and I must say I'm excited to tackle some of his fiction, and other non-fiction as well.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Tracey

    The only previous exposure (other than popular media) I'd had was the excellent (and sadly OOP) audiobook version of Haroun and the Sea of Stories, read by the author. So far, this book a wide-ranging collection of essays, speeches & articles. Some have been more engaging than others (his look at the movie version of The Wizard of Oz was fascinating!), but I'm generally enjoying it & feel more comfortable about moving on to some of his fiction. I did start feeling a bit of "fatwa fatigue" towar The only previous exposure (other than popular media) I'd had was the excellent (and sadly OOP) audiobook version of Haroun and the Sea of Stories, read by the author. So far, this book a wide-ranging collection of essays, speeches & articles. Some have been more engaging than others (his look at the movie version of The Wizard of Oz was fascinating!), but I'm generally enjoying it & feel more comfortable about moving on to some of his fiction. I did start feeling a bit of "fatwa fatigue" towards the middle/end of the book - tho one can hardly blame him for allowing a death threat to be the focus of his attention....

  11. 5 out of 5

    Moira Russell

    Bought this basically for the huge, enormous, gigantic essay on the Wizard of Oz which I read in the New Yorker when it came out, marveling at each turn of the page how it just went on and on and on. (There was an equally huge, enormous, gigantic essay -- not at the same time -- on Judy Garland's entire ouvre. I forget who wrote it. Probably Anthony Lane. .....hunh, nope. (I have both those issues, somewhere, moldering and yellow, in a box. In a closet. Decaying slowly in the dark.) Bought this basically for the huge, enormous, gigantic essay on the Wizard of Oz which I read in the New Yorker when it came out, marveling at each turn of the page how it just went on and on and on. (There was an equally huge, enormous, gigantic essay -- not at the same time -- on Judy Garland's entire ouvre. I forget who wrote it. Probably Anthony Lane. .....hunh, nope. (I have both those issues, somewhere, moldering and yellow, in a box. In a closet. Decaying slowly in the dark.)

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jackie

    One of the most important collection of essays I have ever read. He covers a wide range of topics (soccer, movies, writers, political movements, his own fatwa, India, America, etc) but his values never falter. Always he will return to the concept of freedom; what is freedom? What does it look like? Do we value it? How can we protect it? Freedom of speech and the arts. Freedom of and from religion. Freedom from political or economic or philosophical oppression. It all ties together and it all mat One of the most important collection of essays I have ever read. He covers a wide range of topics (soccer, movies, writers, political movements, his own fatwa, India, America, etc) but his values never falter. Always he will return to the concept of freedom; what is freedom? What does it look like? Do we value it? How can we protect it? Freedom of speech and the arts. Freedom of and from religion. Freedom from political or economic or philosophical oppression. It all ties together and it all matters. Read this book.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Karan

    Fabulous to see Rushdie the essayist in peak form here. Throbbing with candour and erudition, the collection offers pieces that are at times prescient, at times personal, at times deliberative and then some carefree notes-to-self that collectively offer a wide-ranging, decade-long snapshot from an intellectual engaged sincerely with politics, literature and world affairs. Having read his autobiography Joseph Anton before, the middle section containing pieces from his fatwa years held little sway Fabulous to see Rushdie the essayist in peak form here. Throbbing with candour and erudition, the collection offers pieces that are at times prescient, at times personal, at times deliberative and then some carefree notes-to-self that collectively offer a wide-ranging, decade-long snapshot from an intellectual engaged sincerely with politics, literature and world affairs. Having read his autobiography Joseph Anton before, the middle section containing pieces from his fatwa years held little sway, but the rest I devoured whole.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Prithvi Shams

    Rushdie has a flair for painting with words, or cooking them into a sumptuous meal. But he flounders when it comes to political commentary. His view of geopolitics has that Occidental tone of the "civilizing West" vs. "to-be-civilized East", and his analysis of contemporary affairs is one dimensional. However, he is a master chef of literature and literary criticism, and perhaps, he should stick to his cuisine. Rushdie has a flair for painting with words, or cooking them into a sumptuous meal. But he flounders when it comes to political commentary. His view of geopolitics has that Occidental tone of the "civilizing West" vs. "to-be-civilized East", and his analysis of contemporary affairs is one dimensional. However, he is a master chef of literature and literary criticism, and perhaps, he should stick to his cuisine.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Margareth

    Food for thought in an era characterised by increasing polarisation, xenophobia and general mistrust of “the others”: “Those who spend their time on guard, waiting for the barbarians to arrive, in the end don’t need any barbarians to come. In a dark variation of the ending of “The Conference of the Birds”, they themselves become the barbarians whose coming they so feared.“

  16. 5 out of 5

    David

    This collection opens with an interminable, overreaching, boring essay on the Wizard of Oz and closes with a smart, insightful, wide-ranging essay on the idea frontier. The filler in between is mediocre and mostly about what it's like to be Salman Rushdie. Snap. This collection opens with an interminable, overreaching, boring essay on the Wizard of Oz and closes with a smart, insightful, wide-ranging essay on the idea frontier. The filler in between is mediocre and mostly about what it's like to be Salman Rushdie. Snap.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Todd Wilhelm

    This book is a collection of articles and essays. Articles on terrorism and freedom were the ones I found most interesting. These were mainly contained in Section II - Messages From the Plague Years. Most of Section One did not hold my interest. A few good quotes: "Moral stature is a rare quality in these degraded days. Very few writers possess it. Miller’s seems innate but was much increased because he was able to learn from his mistakes. Like Günter Grass, who was brought up in a Nazi household This book is a collection of articles and essays. Articles on terrorism and freedom were the ones I found most interesting. These were mainly contained in Section II - Messages From the Plague Years. Most of Section One did not hold my interest. A few good quotes: "Moral stature is a rare quality in these degraded days. Very few writers possess it. Miller’s seems innate but was much increased because he was able to learn from his mistakes. Like Günter Grass, who was brought up in a Nazi household and had the dizzying experience, after the war, of learning that everything he had believed to be true was a lie, Arthur Miller has had—more than once—to discard his worldviews. Coming from a family of profit-minded men, and discovering Marxism at sixteen, he learned that “the true condition of men was the complete opposite of the competitive system I had assumed was normal, with all its mutual hatreds and conniving. Life could be a comradely embrace, people helping one another rather than looking for ways to trip each other up.” Later, Marxism came to seem less idealistic. “Deep down in the comradely world of the Marxist promise is parricide,” he wrote, and, when he and Lillian Hellman were faced with a Yugoslav man’s testimony of the horrors of Soviet domination, he says, unsparingly: “We seemed history’s fools.”" Rushdie, Salman (2002-09-10). Step Across This Line: Collected Nonfiction 1992-2002 (p. 47). Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition "When Arthur Miller says, “We must re-imagine liberty in every generation, especially since a certain number of people are always afraid of it,” his words carry the weight of lived experience, of his own profound re-imaginings. Most of all, however, they carry the weight of his genius." Rushdie, Salman (2002-09-10). Step Across This Line: Collected Nonfiction 1992-2002 (p. 48). Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. "I want to suggest to you that citizens of free societies, democracies, do not preserve their freedom by pussyfooting around their fellow-citizens’ opinions, even their most cherished beliefs. In free societies, you must have the free play of ideas. There must be argument, and it must be impassioned and untrammeled. A free society is not a calm and eventless place—that is the kind of static, dead society dictators try to create. Free societies are dynamic, noisy, turbulent, and full of radical disagreements. Skepticism and freedom are indissolubly linked; and it is the skepticism of journalists, their show-me, prove-it unwillingness to be impressed, that is perhaps their most important contribution to the freedom of the free world. It is the disrespect of journalists—for power, for orthodoxies, for party lines, for ideologies, for vanity, for arrogance, for folly, for pretension, for corruption, for stupidity, maybe even for editors—that I would like to celebrate this morning, and that I urge you all, in freedom’s name, to preserve." Rushdie, Salman (2002-09-10). Step Across This Line: Collected Nonfiction 1992-2002 (p. 135). Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. "I have tried repeatedly to remind people that we are witnessing a war against independence of mind, a war for power. The peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is that it is robbing the human race, posterity as well as the existing generation—[robbing] those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. [For] if the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth; if wrong, they lose what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth produced by its collision with error. Those words are from John Stuart Mill’s great essay “On Liberty.” It is extraordinary how much of Mill’s essay applies directly to the case of The Satanic Verses. The demand for the banning of this novel and indeed the eradication of its author is precisely what Mill called the “assumption of infallibility.” Those who make such demands do so, just as Mill anticipated, because they find the book and its author “immoral and impious.” “But,” he writes, “this is the case in which [the assumption of infallibility] is most fatal. These are exactly the occasions on which the men of one generation commit those dreadful mistakes which excite the astonishment and horror of posterity.” Mill gives two examples of such occasions: the cases of Socrates and of Jesus Christ. To these can be added a third case, that of Galileo. All three men were accused of blasphemy and heresy. All three were attacked by the storm troopers of bigotry. And yet they are, as is plain to anyone, the founders of the philosophical, moral, and scientific traditions of the West. We can say, therefore, that blasphemy and heresy, far from being the greatest evils, are the methods by which human thought has made its most vital advances. The writers of the European Enlightenment, who all came up against the storm troopers at one time or another, knew this. It was because of his nervousness of the power of the Church, not of the State, that Voltaire suggested it was advisable for writers to live in close proximity to a frontier, so that, if necessary, they could hop across it into safety. Frontiers will not defend a writer now, not if this new form of terrorism, terrorism by edict and bounty, is allowed to have its day. Many people say that the Rushdie case is a one-off, that it will never be repeated. This complacency, too, is an enemy to be defeated. I return to John Stuart Mill. “The dictum that truth always triumphs over persecution is one of those pleasant falsehoods which all experience refutes. History teems with instances of truth put down by persecution. If not suppressed for ever, it may be thrown back for centuries. . . . Persecution has always succeeded, save where the heretics were too strong a party to be effectually persecuted.” There it is in a nutshell. Religious persecution is never a matter of morality, always a question of power. To defeat the modern-day witch-burners, it is necessary to show them that our power, too, is great—that our numbers are greater than theirs, and our resolve, too. This is a battle of wills." Rushdie, Salman (2002-09-10). Step Across This Line: Collected Nonfiction 1992-2002 (pp. 214-215). Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. "British Muslims may not wish to hear this from the author of The Satanic Verses, but the real enemies of Islam are not British novelists or Turkish satirists. They are not the secularists murdered by fundamentalists in Algeria recently. Nor do they include the distinguished Cairo professor of literature and his scholarly wife who are presently being hounded by Egyptian fanatics for being apostates. Neither are they the intellectuals who lost their jobs and were arrested by the authorities in Saudi Arabia because they founded a human-rights organization. However weak, however few the progressive voices may be, they represent the best hope in the Muslim world for a free and prosperous future. The enemies of Islam are those who wish the culture to be frozen in time, who are, in Ali Shariati’s phrase, in “revolt against history,” and whose tyranny and unreason are making modern Islam look like a culture of madness and blood. Alibhai-Brown’s interviewee Nasreen Rehman wisely says that “we must stop thinking in binary, oppositional terms.” May I propose that a starting place might be the recognition that, on the one hand, it is the Siddiquis and Hizbollahs and blind sheikhs and ayatollahs who are the real foes of Muslims around the world, the real “enemy within”; and that, on the other hand—as in the case of the campaign on behalf of Bosnia’s Muslims—there are many “friends without.”" Rushdie, Salman (2002-09-10). Step Across This Line: Collected Nonfiction 1992-2002 (pp. 240-241). Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. "No religion justifies murder. If assassins disguise themselves by putting on the cloak of faith, we must not be fooled. Islamic fundamentalism is not a religious movement but a political one. Let us, in Djaout’s memory, at least learn to call tyranny by its true name." Rushdie, Salman (2002-09-10). Step Across This Line: Collected Nonfiction 1992-2002 (p. 249). Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. "The attack on all those concerned with the publication of The Satanic Verses is an outrage. It is a scandal. It is barbaric. It is philistine. It is bigoted. It is criminal. And yet, over the last seven years or so, it has been called a number of other things. It has been called religious. It has been called a cultural problem. It has been called understandable. It has been called theoretical. But if religion is an attempt to codify human ideas of the good, how can murder be a religious act? And if, today, people understand the motives of such would-be assassins, what else might they “understand” tomorrow? Burnings at the stake? If zealotry is to be tolerated because it is allegedly a part of Islamic culture, what is to become of the many, many voices in the Muslim world—intellectuals, artists, workers, and above all women—clamoring for freedom, struggling for it, and even giving up their lives in its name? What is “theoretical” about the bullets that struck William Nygaard, the knives that wounded the Italian translator Ettore Capriolo, the knives that killed the Japanese translator Hitoshi Igarashi? After nearly seven years, I think that we have the right to say that nobody has been angry enough about this state of affairs. I have been told in Denmark about the importance of cheese exports to Iran. In Ireland it was halal beef exports. In Germany and Italy and Spain other kinds of produce were involved. Can it really be the case that we are so keen to sell our wares that we can tolerate the occasional knifing, the odd shooting, and even a murder or two? How long will we chase after the money dangled before us by people with bloody hands? William Nygaard’s voice has been asking many such uncompromising questions. I salute him for his courage, for his obstinacy, and for his rage. Will the so-called Free World ever be angry enough to act decisively in this matter? I hope that it may become so, even yet. William Nygaard is a free man who chooses to exercise his rights of speech and action. Our leaders should recognize that their lack of sufficient anger indicates their own lack of interest in freedom. By becoming complaisant with terror, they become, in a very real sense, unfree." Rushdie, Salman (2002-09-10). Step Across This Line: Collected Nonfiction 1992-2002 (pp. 255-256). Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Dr G

    As a collection of non-fiction writing from 1992-2002, read in 2018, this was always going to struggle from issues of anachronism. However, I appreciate Rushdie and am interested in his ideas, and this book popped up at a remainders sale. I could not overlook it. There are many rewards for the reader, primarily in the writing skill, but also in some of the ideas: He writes of, "...suffering from culturally endemic golden-ageism: that recurring, bilious nostalgia for a literary past which never, at As a collection of non-fiction writing from 1992-2002, read in 2018, this was always going to struggle from issues of anachronism. However, I appreciate Rushdie and am interested in his ideas, and this book popped up at a remainders sale. I could not overlook it. There are many rewards for the reader, primarily in the writing skill, but also in some of the ideas: He writes of, "...suffering from culturally endemic golden-ageism: that recurring, bilious nostalgia for a literary past which never, at the time, seemed that much better than the present does now.” Common sense, beautifully expressed. Or his attempts to do, in "Midnight's Children", something he found in Dickens: “Dickensian London, that stench, rotting city full of sly, conniving shysters, that city in which goodness was under constant assault by duplicity, malice, and greed, seemed to me to hold up the mirror to the pullulating cities of India, with their preening elites living the high life in gleaming skyscrapers while the great majority of their compatriots battled to survive in the hurly-burly of the streets below….his real innovation: namely his unique combination of naturalistic backgrounds and surreal foregrounds. In Dickens, the details of place and social mores are skewered by a pitiless realism, a naturalistic exactitude that has never been bettered. Upon this realistic canvas he places his outsize characters, in whom we have no choice but to believe because we cannot fail to believe in the world they live in.” More connections, this time with the Roman historian Suetonius: “From Suetonius, I learned much about the paradoxical nature of power elites, and so was able to construct an elite of my own in the version of Pakistan that is the setting for Shame: an elite riven by hatreds and fights to the death but joined by bonds of blood and marriage and, crucially, in control of all the power in the land.” And simply cheerful Gothic punning about his English unfaithfulness to flat-breads: “In the whorehouses of the bakeries, I was serially, gluttonously, irredeemably unfaithful to all those chapatis-next-door waiting for me back home. East was East but yeast was West.” (Also clean water from the tap.) “A regime of bread and water has never, since that time, sounded like a hardship to me.” And some fine second-hand humour: “was once a goalkeeper name Dracula because he was afraid of crosses. Also a goalie named Cinderella, because he was always late for the ball.” Many of his thoughts, articulated twenty years ago, have perhaps even greater importance now when the warnings have clearly not yet been heeded: “However, we live in an increasingly censorious age. By this I mean that the broad, indeed international, acceptance of First Amendment principles is being steadily eroded. Many special-interest groups, claiming the moral high ground, now demand the protection of the censor. Political correctness and the rise of the religious right provide the pro-censorship lobby with further cohorts. I would like to say a little about just one of the weapons of this resurgent lobby, a weapon used, interestingly, by everyone from anti-pornography feminists to religious fundamentalists: I mean the concept of ‘respect.’” “I want to suggest to you that citizens of free societies, democracies, do not preserve their freedom by pussyfooting around their fellow-citizens’ opinions, even their most cherished beliefs. In free societies, you must have the free play of ideas. There must be argument, and it must be impassioned and untrammelled. A free society is not a calm and eventless place – that is the kind of static, dead society dictators try to create. Free societies are dynamic, noisy, turbulent, and full of radical disagreements. Skepticism and freedom are indissolubly linked…” Rushdie does not hold back in his criticisms, writing of Rajiv Gandhi and then Sonia: (Rajiv's) “stunningly tedious oration in broken schoolboy Hindi, while the audience simply and crushingly walked away. Now, here on television is his widow, her Hindi even more broken than his, a woman convinced of her right to rule but convincing almost nobody except herself.” So, there are many gems one takes away, and they are not all isolated; his sustained commentaries on his own travails (the jihad pronounced against him); religion in general and of any form; and the many issues of the sub-continent and of partition are all articulately, intelligently and thoughtfully presented, even though it is virtually certain no one reader would agree with everything he has written. One does not only defend his right to say these things, but thanks him for his courage and for his intellect as he says them.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Vel Veeter

    Salman Rushdie has been publishing novels for 40+ years and now and in addition to that has published two collections of essays and nonfiction. This is one that cover ground from 1992-2002. There’s a few different kinds of writings in this piece. There’s analysis of writing and politics, and I think this is Rushdie at his very best. He’s a good reader, and he’s good at making his reading clear and focused. So when he analyzes both what is true and interpretive about a novel, but also what is fasc Salman Rushdie has been publishing novels for 40+ years and now and in addition to that has published two collections of essays and nonfiction. This is one that cover ground from 1992-2002. There’s a few different kinds of writings in this piece. There’s analysis of writing and politics, and I think this is Rushdie at his very best. He’s a good reader, and he’s good at making his reading clear and focused. So when he analyzes both what is true and interpretive about a novel, but also what is fascinating and interesting about a novel, he’s good at it. He’s also good at doing this with politics. I am at an extreme disadvantage with his piece because I do not have a command of almost any of the Indian facts of these politics. So I have to trust him, and he’s at least apparently trustworthy. When it comes to the literary engagement, I also think he’s trustworthy, but I am more in my wheelhouse here. The essays are less good when he falls into sentimentality, something that would add charm to his discussion of The Wizard of Oz, but there’s a paltry kind of analysis going on in this first essay that the balance is out of whack, or nonexistent. The best essay in the whole collection, by far, is the title essay, which is about boundaries and borders (and walls) in an especially otherwise boundaryless state of the world. He’s right to understand that something significant has changed with Sept 11 and reads this significance through the literature of borders. And it’s really fascinating and I think mostly right thinking.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Lenora Good

    I read, no, make that "devoured," his first collection of essays, Imaginary Homelands: Essays and Criticism 1981-1991 and loved every word of it. It struck me as a potpourri of subjects, each essay different from its neighbors. This book seems to be a lot of writing about the same subjects. The writing is clear, and enjoyable, but for me, too much almost repetition on a topic. I loved the first section, enjoyed the other sections, started all of the penultimate section—didn't finish most of them I read, no, make that "devoured," his first collection of essays, Imaginary Homelands: Essays and Criticism 1981-1991 and loved every word of it. It struck me as a potpourri of subjects, each essay different from its neighbors. This book seems to be a lot of writing about the same subjects. The writing is clear, and enjoyable, but for me, too much almost repetition on a topic. I loved the first section, enjoyed the other sections, started all of the penultimate section—didn't finish most of them, and loved the last section. Essays are some of my favorite reading, and Mr. Rushdie is marvelous at writing them. His humor comes through, as well as his passion. I have learned a great deal from his essays, especially about living in different countries. I believe most, if not all, of these essays were previously published in various venues, so some might be familiar to you. Having never read his fiction (on my list) I can't tell you if doing so would make these essays better or not. He begins with an essay about Kansas and how The Wizard of Oz affected him as a child and later his writing. All in all, I recommend this book. It won't appeal to everyone, nor will all the essays be of equal interest, but all are of equal and high literary value.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Talbot Hook

    Rushdie has an enviable body of work, into which he's breathed his vast, vivifying wit, clarity, and intelligence; at once worldly and place-bound, parochial and universal, his writings - novels, essays, etc. - have continuously enraptured me ever since I came across his name at the beginning of my third decade. I would like nothing more than to spend a week with him in India, so that I may be strictly, categorically humbled by my ignorance of it; as he writes in his essay on the Taj Mahal, I wo Rushdie has an enviable body of work, into which he's breathed his vast, vivifying wit, clarity, and intelligence; at once worldly and place-bound, parochial and universal, his writings - novels, essays, etc. - have continuously enraptured me ever since I came across his name at the beginning of my third decade. I would like nothing more than to spend a week with him in India, so that I may be strictly, categorically humbled by my ignorance of it; as he writes in his essay on the Taj Mahal, I would like my distant, cheap image to be exploded, so that the reality of the thing can replace its simulacrum.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Erica Bouris

    This collection of essays is very much of its time (decade between 1992-2002) and in fact, reading it nearly 20 years out from that makes it feel even more so I think. Rushdie is at his best when he is reflecting on the moments and stories - human ones - and steeping them in a nuanced perspective on how people and politics and culture intersect in ways that are both sharp and fluid, across time and borders. He is less effective when he indulges (overindulges?) his own personal story and narrativ This collection of essays is very much of its time (decade between 1992-2002) and in fact, reading it nearly 20 years out from that makes it feel even more so I think. Rushdie is at his best when he is reflecting on the moments and stories - human ones - and steeping them in a nuanced perspective on how people and politics and culture intersect in ways that are both sharp and fluid, across time and borders. He is less effective when he indulges (overindulges?) his own personal story and narrative too much. These essays, like all of Rushdie's work, are strengthened by his natural gait with the written word.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Aaron Culley

    This is a diverse collection of Rushdie's non-fiction writings, mostly columns and editorials, along with several speeches and a few other things mixed in. Some of the pieces weren't on topics that weren't of great interest to me, but even those included moments of his characteristic snark and wit. However, his essays on current events, even over 15 years later, still seem very timely, and his arguments in favor of freedom of speech and expression against all forms of bigotry and censorship rema This is a diverse collection of Rushdie's non-fiction writings, mostly columns and editorials, along with several speeches and a few other things mixed in. Some of the pieces weren't on topics that weren't of great interest to me, but even those included moments of his characteristic snark and wit. However, his essays on current events, even over 15 years later, still seem very timely, and his arguments in favor of freedom of speech and expression against all forms of bigotry and censorship remain both powerful and timely.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Rob Miech

    His review of Wizard of Oz is brilliant. The rest of this is excellent, too.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Falbs

    If you offered me a chance to sit down to dinner with any living author, I think Salman Rushdie would be at the top of my list.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Algernon

    This is a collection of essays and opinion columns encompassing Salman Rushdie's arrival in New York and his continuing work as a novelist and critic. His essay on The Wizard of Oz is a beautiful piece, written as a migrant and a father, in which he explores "one final, unexpected rite of passage," when we must inevitably disappoint the expectations of our child and be exposed - like the wizard as portrayed by Frank Morgan - as humbugs. At times, Rushdie's thought seems constrained by double stand This is a collection of essays and opinion columns encompassing Salman Rushdie's arrival in New York and his continuing work as a novelist and critic. His essay on The Wizard of Oz is a beautiful piece, written as a migrant and a father, in which he explores "one final, unexpected rite of passage," when we must inevitably disappoint the expectations of our child and be exposed - like the wizard as portrayed by Frank Morgan - as humbugs. At times, Rushdie's thought seems constrained by double standards. Although the long section relating the story of the campaign to defend him from Ayatollah Khomeini's death sentence is valuable, I was disappointed it did not include his own infamous public embrace and then disavowal of Islam. Perhaps it is a moment he would rather forget at the time, even though he could submit this as evidence of the fact that scripts were continually being forced upon him by various parties during his years in hiding. There is even a darkly amusing echo here of Muhammad's disavowal of the so-called "Satanic" verses mentioned in a certain famous novel. It is, however, an event that belongs in the record. A decade later, he deals with this issue a bit more directly in his memoir, Joseph Anton: A Memoir, but even there and certainly here, the humbug is still hidden from view. Rushdie's views on the September 11 attacks and the war on terrorism (which is to some extent a war on violence wrought in the name of Islam) is surely of interest given his personal experience as a victim of ongoing terroristic threats. Yet a contradiction in his moral reason appears over the course of his writing. He upholds, as a basic principle of morality, the view that an individual is responsible for his murders no matter what his rationale is. Hence, it is unacceptable to excuse terrorism on the basis of anti-Americanism. On the other hand, Rushdie is willing to relieve individuals of personal blame in order to blame religion itself for murder. He writes, "...religion is the poison in the blood... What happened in India, happened in God's name. The problem's name is God." If an individual kills for the sake of a totem, why is that God's fault rather than the individual's? Why is it okay to blame a person's religion, but not their politics? Over the ensuing decade, this fixation on religion - not just Islam, but religion generally - became increasingly strident in Rushdie and his friends Christopher Hitchens and other "New Atheist" figures like Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Bill Maher. At their worst, this consuming hatred provides aid and comfort to imperialism and the idea that certain parts of the world need to be "civilized" by certain others.

  27. 4 out of 5

    John

    I really enjoyed this, because Rushdie's writing is so fluid and witty and easy to read, and because he touches on so many different subjects in this book. This is all essays and columns and stuff, and he really runs the gamut, there's a great piece that's his analysis of "The Wizard of Oz", from an adult standpoint but fully admitting that it was the first movie to ever really make a big impression on him so he's a big fan. It's intellectual and not, which makes it fun; he gets into the geometr I really enjoyed this, because Rushdie's writing is so fluid and witty and easy to read, and because he touches on so many different subjects in this book. This is all essays and columns and stuff, and he really runs the gamut, there's a great piece that's his analysis of "The Wizard of Oz", from an adult standpoint but fully admitting that it was the first movie to ever really make a big impression on him so he's a big fan. It's intellectual and not, which makes it fun; he gets into the geometric shapes in the Kansas scenes, a discussion of how the rule of the witch of the east couldn't be all bad as the munchkins seem to be doing pretty well, much better than, say, the flying monkeys, and he also talks about how much he hates Toto. And other essays in the book deal with his picks for the best british writers of the early 90s (gives some good ideas for other authors to read), his return to India after many years of exile when there was a bounty on his head, his love of the Tottenham Spurs soccer team and their history over the last couple decades, being a kinda nerdy guy in 1968 swinging London, and many letters to the editor defending himself during those 'bounty on the head years'. This book is never boring. I wish the cover didn't make it look so boring. I understand why they picked the picture they did, and the title, because they come from the last essay in the book, which is about the blurring of borders and how we are a world of migrants and we need to fight the terrorists with our freedoms and modernity and whatnot. But I feel like a lot more people would buy this book if they spiced up the cover a little. The photo is grainy and black and white and looks like some anonymous war zone, the title is war zone like too. And the quote on the front is awful "This book is full of so much that is 'relevant' that the very word seems inadequate" - Los Angeles Times. Well, the newspaper is also filled with 'relevant' things. So is Time magazine. Who cares? It makes it sound like the whole book is politics, politics, politics, and it really isn't. They really should have marketed this book in some other way.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Christopher

    This is Salman Rushdie's second collection of essays, which range from 1992 to 2002. Like his first collection Imaginary Homelands, I do not think that this is essentially reading for anyone but dedicated Rushdie fans, but the collection stands out as a commentary on Rushdie's place in the current literary scene. For ultimately what pervades this collection is a sense of desperation. During the early 1990s Rushdie didn't want to speak about the controversy of The Satanic Verses and the fatwa, pre This is Salman Rushdie's second collection of essays, which range from 1992 to 2002. Like his first collection Imaginary Homelands, I do not think that this is essentially reading for anyone but dedicated Rushdie fans, but the collection stands out as a commentary on Rushdie's place in the current literary scene. For ultimately what pervades this collection is a sense of desperation. During the early 1990s Rushdie didn't want to speak about the controversy of The Satanic Verses and the fatwa, prefering to make the media concentrate on his newer works. However, the two novels which appeared during that time, The Moor’s Last Sigh and The Ground Beneath Her Feet, did not gain large critical or public acceptance, and essentially put Rushdie on the way out of public consciousness and critical esteem. In Step Across This Line Rushdie starts talking about the fatwa and fundamentalist Islam again, and one gets the impression that he is only looking for some way to reach the public again because his latest novels have bombed. That's not to say some of his insights are not thought-provoking. In "Not About Islam?" he bluntly calls the September 11 attack a manifestation of a sickness indeed widespread in the Muslim world and deplores America's insistence, for the purposes of coalition-building and not rocking the boat, that the attacks have little to do with Islam. He also bemoans the sectarian violence in India, for Rushdie has greatly benefited from mixture and melange--his first big novel Midnight’s Children welded a Western genre with uniquely Indian storytelling--and to see people creating divisions and violence saddens him. If you've never read Rushdie before, try The Satanic Verses, which is a superb novel full of exciting fantasy and at the same time all too real social criticism. Step Across This Line is an okay read for diehard fans.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Newnoob

    With great power comes great responsibility, goes the saying. In case of great writers, the power they exercise also provides great opportunities to make people listen (or in this case read) to everything they say or write. Rushdie, literary giant in his own right, seems to exercises this great power in this collection of non fiction that is littered with gems, but is let down by what seems like mostly filler material. Divided into 4 parts, the first part is by far the best with Rushdie discussin With great power comes great responsibility, goes the saying. In case of great writers, the power they exercise also provides great opportunities to make people listen (or in this case read) to everything they say or write. Rushdie, literary giant in his own right, seems to exercises this great power in this collection of non fiction that is littered with gems, but is let down by what seems like mostly filler material. Divided into 4 parts, the first part is by far the best with Rushdie discussing everything from The wizard of Oz, the novel as a medium, a football game to his frantic but thankfully peaceful return to India. The second part (called the Plague years) is of course dedicated to the satanic verses, fatwa and the so called "Rushdie affair"; though disappointingly discussion of the novel itself is very limited, quite surprising, considering the fact that he mention many inspirations, influences and incidents that went into the making of his other novels throughout this book. The third part is a collection of articles written for newspapers, dealing with contemporary issues, and this is where the weakness of the selection lies. Sure, there are important articles written in the aftermath of 9/11 and the Gujarat communal riots, but rest of them simply fail to invoke any interest as the topics they dealt with (like the Bush-Gore election) have lost the relevance with time. The fourth part, from which the collection derives its name, is a lengthy lecture delivered on the whole issue of the frontier, the act of crossing and the transformation one goes through upon crossing it. A compelling read, and makes up for the slightly antiquated writing of the third part

  30. 4 out of 5

    jon

    This is sort of a strange and eclectic collection, encompassing small journalistic pieces on popular music and cinema, longer essays on literature and politics, and messages "from the plague years," i.e., his seclusion in protective custody due to Ayatollah Khomeini's fatwa for The Satanic Verses. Across all of these forms and genres, Rushdie combines his vast cultural knowledge with witty turns of phrase that never sound condescending or "high-brow." I call this volume "strange," though, because This is sort of a strange and eclectic collection, encompassing small journalistic pieces on popular music and cinema, longer essays on literature and politics, and messages "from the plague years," i.e., his seclusion in protective custody due to Ayatollah Khomeini's fatwa for The Satanic Verses. Across all of these forms and genres, Rushdie combines his vast cultural knowledge with witty turns of phrase that never sound condescending or "high-brow." I call this volume "strange," though, because of its almost 180 degree turn, politically speaking, from his previous publication, the novel, Fury. Fury was published in 2000, Step Across This Line in 2002; Rushdie lived in NYC at the time, and I hardly need to recount the events in that city in the intervening year. Fury is brutally critical of the U.S., whereas a number of the articles and essays in S.A.T.L. take the attitude that, regrettable though it may be, the U.S.'s invasion of Afghanistan is necessary for the protection of freedom. Rushdie later added a note saying that he did not realize at the time to what extent the U.S. would push that "necessity." In any case, the shift in attitude is startling and unsettling for those who know his earlier works. Then again, from at least Shame on, he has a tendency to grasp at and cling to an overly-abstract and naive conception of freedom, which arguably influenced the change that I've been describing.

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