September 6, 2017: SALMAN RUSHDIE

Author Salman Rushdie joins us to discuss his latest work, “The Golden House,” an epic novel with political undertones set right here in Manhattan.

 

SALMAN RUSHDIE BOOK EVENTS

Thursday, September 7 at 8pm – Brooklyn Public Library

Friday, November 3 at 7:30pm – 92nd Street Y in New York

 

TRANSCRIPT

> THE SECOND NOVEL, MIDNIGHT'S CHILDREN WON THE BOOKER PRIZE IN 1981.

STILL, RUSH IS PERHAPS KNOWN FOR HIS ESPECIALLY I THINK FOURTH NOVEL, THE SATANIC VERSES.

TODAY HE LIVES HERE IN NEW YORK CITY, THE SETTING FOR HIS LATEST NOVEL, THE GOLDEN HOUSE OPINION.

SALMAN THANK YOU FOR BEING HERE.

IT'S SO RICH.

WHAT ASPECT OF IT FIRST HIT YOUR IMAGINATION?

IT'S REALLY TWO THINGS CAME COLLI COLLIDED WITH EACH OTHER.

THE NOVEL BEFORE THIS IS FAIRY TALE OF NEW YORK.

IT'S GOT GENIES AND PEOPLE FLYING AROUND AND OGRES.

I THOUGHT I WANTED TO WRITE ALMOST THE OPPOSITE KIND OF NEW YORK NOVEL WHICH WAS A REALIST NOVEL.

IT'S LIKE A BIG, SOCIALIST IST PANORAMA NOVEL.

WHAT ARE PEOPLE THINKING ABOUT NOW?

WHAT'S BUGGING PEOPLE?

ON THE ONE HAND THERE WAS THAT.

I HAD IN MY HEAD THE IDEA OF THIS FAMILY.

THIS WICKED OLD PATRIARCH WITH A SHADY PAST LOOKING TO REINVENT HIMSELF IN ANOTHER PLACE.

INITIALLY, I DIDN'T KNOW THAT WOULD BE FLORK.

WHEN I HAD THIS IDEA OF WRITING A NEW YORK NOVEL, THIS CHARACTER TOLD ME THAT'S WHERE I WANT TO GO.OF WRITING A NEW YORK NOVEL, THIS CHARACTER TOLD ME THAT'S WHERE I WANT TO GO.

THESE TWO THINGS COLLIDED.

IT'S A MYSTERIOUS FAMILY, VERY WEALTHY.

THEY COMPLETELY REINVENTED THEMSELVES.

YOU NEVER FIND OUT THEIR REAL NAMES.

EVERYTHING IS FAKE.

YOU NEVER FIND OUT THE REALITY.

THAT STORY TAKES PLACE WITH A BACKDROP OF THE EIGHT YEAR HISTORIC AMERICA FROM THE ELECTION OF BARACK OBAMA TO THE ELECTION AND LITTLE BIT AFTER OF DONALD TRUMP WHICH IS NARRATER NEVER NAMES.

HE ONLY CALLS HIM THE JOKER.

THAT'S ONE OF THE NICEST THINGS HE CALLS HIM.

ELABORATE ON THE CONFLUENCE OF THOSE TWO REALITIES.

I WANTED THE PRIVATE WORLD OF THIS FAMILY AND THEIR AGONIES AND SECRETS AS ONE LAYER OF THE BOOK.

AROUND THAT TO BE THE LARGER WORLD OF WHAT'S HAPPENING IN OUR LIVES.

INITIALLY, I DIDN'T HAVE THE IDEA IT WOULD GO FROM THE ELECTION OF OBAMA.

I THOUGHT IT WOULD BROADLY BE SET DURING THE TIME OF THE OBAMA PRESIDENCY AND AT CERTAIN POINT I THOUGHT IT WAS BETTER TO BE PRE PRECISE.

IT GIVES IT MORE OF A SHAPE.

THE WORDS DONALD TRUMP DON'T OCCUR IN THE NOVEL, BUT THE CHARACTER THAT'S A SATIRICAL VERSION OF HIM.

HE'S GOT GREEN HAIR.

HE'S CALLED THE JOKER.

LITERALLY, HE'S THE BATMAN JOKER AND CLINTON IS CALLED THE FAT WOMAN.

THE JOKER AND THE TRUMP ARE TWO VERY STRANGE PLAYING CARDS.

THE TWO PLAYING CARDS THAT DON'T BEHAVE LIKE THE OTHER PLAYING CARDS.

THE NARRATER OF THE FILM, I MEAN THE NOVEL IS A YOUNG FILM MAKER.

HE IS REVOLTED AND SHOCKED BY THE CANDIDACY OF THE JOKER.

WORSE STILL HE'S SHOCKED BY THE VICTORY OF THE JOKER.

ONE OF THE THINGS HE'S AGONIZED ABOUT IS NOT JUST WHO WON THE ELECTION BUT HOW DID WE LET IT HAPPEN.

THAT'S TO SAY NOT WHAT'S WRONG WITH HIM BUT WHAT'S WRONG WITH US.

DOES HIS CONCERN REFLECT YOUR CONCERNS?

YES.

I THINK MANY OF US FELT ANGUISHED DURING THE COURSE OF THE LAST SIX MONTHS AS THE EXTENT OF WHAT HAS HAPPENED BECAME EVIDENT TO US.

WITH RENEE, I THOUGHT HE'S A MEMBER OF A MUCH YOUNGER GENERATION.

HE'S MUCH YOUNGER THAN ME.

ONE OF THE THINGS I FEEL OPTIMISTIC ABOUT IS THE YOUNGER GENERATION IN THIS COUNTRY.

I THINK THEY ARE VERY IDEALISTIC.

THEY HAVE GREAT SENSE OF SOCIAL JUSTICE.

THEY ARE INTERESTED IN THE ENVIRONMENT AND THEY ARE PASSIONATE.

THEY ARE WILLING TO MARCH AND PROTEST.

I THOUGHT I WANTED TO HAVE AS THE VOICE OF THE NOVEL, THE VOICE OF A YOUNGER PERSON.

THE NOVEL IS BEING COME PAPERED TO THE GREAT GATSBY BECAUSE IT HAS THE RICH CHARACTER IN THE CENTER OF IT.

IT THAT NAIVE NARCORATER.

IT KIND OF DEPICTS THE NIGHTMARISH QUALITY OF WHICH THE PERIOD WE LIVE.

DO YOU THINK THOSE COMPARISONS ARE RIGHT?

I'M DEEPLY FLATTERED.

ANYBODY WHO COMPARES YOU TO FITZGERALD IS OVERPRAISING YOU.

WHAT I THINK, I HOPE THAT THE BOOK DOES IS TO CAPTURE A MOMENT.

I THINK IN THE SAME WAY IT'S VERY DIFFICULT NOW FOR US TO LOOK AT THE JAZZ AGE WITHOUT SEEING IT THROUGH FITZGERALD'S EYES.

IF YOU CAN CAPTURE A MOMENT THEN IT BECOMES YOURS IN SOME WAY.

THAT'S MY HOPE FOR THE BOOK THAT PEOPLE READING IT NOW HAVE A KIND OF PLEASURE OR RECOGNITION.

THEY SAY THIS IS WHAT IT'S LIKE.

THAT PEOPLE IN THE FUTURE READING IT MIGHT THINK, THAT'S WHAT IT WAS LIKE.

AS WE WERE TALKING BEFORE WHEN THE CAMERAS STARTED ROLLING, READERS FROM NEW YORK CITY WILL REALLY HAVE THAT EXPERIENCE.

I HOPE SO.

I'VE BEEN LIVING HERE ALMOST 20 YEARS NOW.

20 YEARS AGO WHEN I FIRST MOVMOVER -- MOVED HERE I WROTE A NOVEL ABOUT NEW YORK THAT WAS PUBLISHED ON NE9/11.

THAT WAS A NOVEL OF ARRIVAL.

IT WAS ABOUT A PERSON JUST ARRIVING IN NEW YORK CITY AS I HAD.

20 YEARS LATER, I'M PART OF THE FURNITURE NOW.

IT'S A DIFFERENT WAY OF LOOKING AT IT FROM THAT PERSPECTIVE.

THE SETTING OF THE BOOK, THIS LITTLE GARDEN IN GRENWICH VILLAGE AND THE SECRET LITTLE GARDEN.

I KNEW IT BECAUSE I HAD A COUPLE OF FRIENDS WHO HAVE HOME THERE IS.

IT'S LIKE AN ANTI-THEATER AND THE CHARACTERS AND THEIR STORIES CAN ACT THEMSELVES OUT.

IT'S A GLREAT SETTING.

IT'S A CONCERN OF YOURS BEYOND THE NOVEL.

FREEDOM OF SPEECH.

THE ABILITY TO SPEAK FREELY NO MATTER WHAT IT IS.

YOU THINK IT'S UNDER THREAT.

WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST THREATS?

THERE'S A THREAT FROM VERY CRUDELY, THERE'S A THREAT FROM THE RIGHT AND A THREAT FROM THE LEFT.

THE THREAT FROM THE RIGHT WE HAVE JUST SEEN IT.

WE HAVE JUST SEEN IT ON TELEVISION IN CHARLOTTESVILLE.

NO DOUBT WE'RE ABOUT TO SEE IT ELSEWHERE AS WELL.

SURE.

THAT'S SELF-EXPLANATORY WHAT THAT THREAT IS.

IT'S THE THREAT OF NEO-NAZIS.

WHAT I WORRY ABOUT SOMETIMES IS THAT THERE ARE A LOT OF VERY WELL MEANING PEOPLE OF LIBERAL PROGRESSIVE WHO SEEM WILLING TO ACCEPT LIMITATIONS ON SPEECH BECAUSE THEY MIGHT UPSET SOMEBODY.

MY VIEW IS WE JUST HAVE TO BE THICKER SKIN THAN THAT.

EVERYTHING UPSETS SOMEBODY.

IF THAT BECOMES THE CRITERIA THEN NOBODY CAN SAY ANYTHING.

I WORRY ABOUT THAT.

ARE YOU ALREADY WORKING YOUR NEXT NOVEL?

I WISH.

I WISH.

WHEN A BOOK COMES OUT, I LIKE IT IF I ALREADY HAVE A KIND OF GERM OF NEXT ONE?

DO YOU?

I DO NOT.

I HAVE THESE TWO NOVELS IN NEW YORK.

MAYBE I NEED TO GET OUT OF NEW YORK.

I LIKE WHAT YOU DO IN NEW YORK.

I HAVE TO GET OUT OF THE BUBBLE.

MAYBE I HAVE TO GET IN A RED STATE OR TWO.

OR MAYBE GO BACK TO BRITAIN WHERE YOU WERE KNIGHTED IN 2007.

I'VE BEEN AROUND A LONG TIME.

THE BOOK IS THE GOLDEN HOUSE.

IT'S A WONDERFUL BOOK.

IT'S JUST OVERWHELMING TO READ IT.

THANK YOU SO MUCH.

IT'S AN HONOR TO HAVE YOU HERE.

WONDERFUL TO BE WITH YOU.

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WE'LL SEE YOU AGAIN TOMORROW.

Funders

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