Languages of Truth: Essays 2003-2020, Salman Rushdie’s new book | Sunday Observer

Languages of Truth: Essays 2003-2020, Salman Rushdie’s new book

18 April, 2021

Genre: Non-fiction
Publisher - Random House
Hardcover - 320 pages

The best of best Booker Prize-winning, internationally acclaimed bestselling author Salman Rushdie’s new book Languages of Truth: Essays 2003-2020 will be released on May. The book is a Random House publication, and is a newly collected, revised, and expanded non-fiction including one original essay from the first two decades of the twenty-first century.

There are four sections in the book. “Before there were books, there were stories”, writes Rushdie (Quichotte) in this mesmerizing collection and in the first of four sections, he explores how the “stories we fall in love with make us who we are”. And the essay named “Wonder Tales” sees him praising fiction for containing “profound truths”.

The second section mainly focuses on writers: from Shakespeare and Cervantes to Samuel Beckett, Eudora Welty and Toni Morrison. Both Cervantes and Shakespeare, he writes, showed that fiction could be “many things at the same time”. There is another piece in this section about playwright Harold Pinter, a staunch friend of Rushdie’s who stood up for him during the furor over his 1988 novel The Satanic Verses. There he highlights Pinter’s notorious disdain for explaining his work. The third recounts Rushdie’s work as president of PEN America. In the essay called “Courage” he challenges the notion that “writers, scholars and artists who stand against orthodoxy or bigotry are to blame for upsetting people”. The final section assembles Rushdie’s writing on the visual arts.

Here, Rushdie’s writing is erudite and full of sympathy, brimming with insight and wit: “Literature has never lost sight of what our quarrelsome world is trying to force us to forget. Literature rejoices in contradiction.” Languages of Truth chronicles Rushdie’s own intellectual engagement with a period of momentous cultural shifts. He immerses the reader in a wide variety of subjects and delves into the nature of storytelling as a deeply human need, and what emerges is, in myriad ways, a love letter to literature itself.