To Salman Rushdie, a dream before his attempted murder ‘felt like a premonition’

Salman Rushdie has long hated and struggled against the idea that the 1989 fatwa pronounced on him after the publication of The Satanic Verses should define his career or his life. It was, as he frequently pointed out, a book he published only a quarter of the way through his career. He wanted the life of a writer, and for his books – even ‘that book’ – to be read as books rather than as footnotes to an episode in his biography or tokens in some pre-digital culture wars. Two nights before the reading, Rushdie dreamt he was attacked by a man with a spear in a Roman amphitheatre He

Hanif Kureishi – portrait of the artist as a young man

If any novelist, playwright or screenwriter of the past 40 years could be called ‘a writer of consequence’, to use the literary agent Andrew Wylie’s term, it would be Hanif Kureishi. While not shifting units on the scale of his near contemporaries Ian McEwan, Martin Amis and Salman Rushdie, Kureishi’s cultural influence – through his explorations of race, class and sexuality in novels such as The Buddha of Suburbia and films like My Beautiful Laundrette – is inestimable. In this first major biography, Ruvani Ranasinha tracks Kureishi’s progress from his birth in Bromley in 1954 to a Pakistani father and English mother, through his glittering, always provocative career, to the

Salman Rushdie’s self-importance is entirely forgivable

I have the habit, when reading a collection of essays, of not reading them in order. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this. So, as it happened, I had read nearly all of Languages of Truth before I arrived at the second piece in the book, ‘Proteus’, and came across the Salman Rushdie I had been looking forward to: the worst Rushdie, the infuriating, humble-bragging, know-all, preposterous and tone-deaf Rushdie. Up until then I had been going through the book, pencilling marginal notes which were saying, essentially, ‘oh, this is rather good’, ‘excellent point’, or ‘very well put’. It was all getting a bit too chummy between Salman and