Salman Rushdie--Eight Propositions for a Post-Modern/Post-Colonial Identity

"I do not envy people who think they have a complete explanation of the world, for the simple reason that they are obviously wrong."--Salman Rushdie, Interview

"Literature is where I go to explore the highest and lowest places in human society and in the human spirit, where I hope to find not absolute truth but the truth of the tale, of the imagination and of the heart."

"Not even the visionary or mystical experience ever lasts very long. It is for art to capture that experience, to offer it to, in the case of literature, its readers; to be, for a secular, materialist culture, some sort of replacement for what the love of god offers in the world of faith."


The following have been claimed concerning either Rushdie himself and/or his fiction.  I would like us to test each proposition against our reading of East, West:Stories:

  • Rushdie offers us a world that both loves yet denies the miraculous. The fantastic is not made strange, but made almost banal.
  • Rushdie immerses us into a world of hybridity, multiplicity, and the constant shifting of stances and identities.
  • Rushdie represents an acceptance of the West, a rejection of the West, a subversion of the West, and/or a liminal space beyond yet orbiting around the West.
  • Rushdie's works/characters/life is always in migration, is disaporan, even rootless.
  • Rushdie's is a secular, deconstructable self always on the way, transforming itself ever anew, leaving what others consider "pure" for the "impure."
  • Rushdie shows us the (im)possibility of the multicultural society.
  • Rushdie's world is essential cinematic--as escape, definition, soundtrack, and casting.
  • Rushdie's world is one of varying moods (e.g. the erotic, comic, pathetic, furious, heroic, terrible, odious, marvelous, and serene).

Likewise, look over the following model for modernism versus post-modernism.  Which elements seem to apply best to Rushdie's fiction?


  • romanticism 
  • form/ function
  • purpose
  • design
  • hierarchy
  • mastery/ logos
  • art object/ finished
  • creation
  • presence
  • centering
  • root/depth
  • interpretation
  • grand narrative/universal
  • erotic
  • origin and cause


  • surrealism/ dadaism
  • anti-form/ disjunction
  • play
  • chance
  • anarchy
  • exhaustion/ silence
  • process/ happening
  • deconstruction
  • absence
  • dispersal
  • surface/ rhizome
  • (mis)reading
  • local history only
  • androgynous
  • indeterminacy