Quotable: Salman Rushdie

Recently, I had my students read a couple of essays from Salman Rushdie’s collection Imaginary Homelands. I particularly like these lines from “Is Nothing Sacred?”:

What is more, the writer is there, in his work, in the reader’s hands, utterly exposed, utterly defenseless, entirely without the benefit of an alter ego to hide behind. What is forged, in the secret act of reading, is a different kind of identity, as the reader and writer merge, through the medium of the text, to become a collective being that both writes as it reads and reads as it writes, and creates, jointly, that unique work, ‘their’ novel. This ‘secret identity’ of writer and reader is the novel form’s greatest and most subversive gift.

This was originally published in Granta in 1990. If you’re looking for something more recent by Rushdie, try “The Shelter of the World,” which appeared in the New Yorker last week (or was it two weeks ago?), and is an excerpt from his forthcoming novel.

(Photo credit: Eamonn McCabe)