In a world that is ready to criticize the slightest fault, or impropriety of a person's character, or way of thinking, authors, such as Salmon Rushdie, are continually under fire. In his writings, Rushdie takes the aspects of typical every day life and satirizes them in a way that enables his readers to realize how nonsensical they may be. Through centuries of diverse writing and literary changes, one thing remains the same: writers, no matter who they are, or what their standing in society is, will be criticized. Salmon Rushdie, although a modern writer, is faced with much criticism that earlier writers also faced.
In June of 1947, in Bombay, India, a child was born. A child who would grow up to become one of the most outspoken and radical writers of this modern era. Born in a time of political unrest (DISCovering), and a newly found freedom for India from British rule, Rushdie would grow not to find freedom through his writings, but a deep rooted criticism. Educated at The Cathedral Boys' School, and then Cambridge, Rushdie had a refined learning experience. When Rushdie started his career in writing he was unable to support himself and therefore held jobs such as acting and copyrighting until he was able to himself support as a writer.
Rushdie's first published book, Grimus, tells the story of an American Indian who receives the gift of immortality and begins an odessy to find the meaning of life. Initially this work attracted the attention of the science fiction readers(DISCovering). The books genre is very often disagreed upon by critics, and has been called a fable, fantasy, political satire, and magical realism(DISCovering). Being "an ambitious, strikingly confident first work(DISCovering),"
Rushdie was able to establish himself in the literary world as a writer. In his second book, Rushdie turned back to his homeland to find the subject that he wished to write about. Midnight's Children chronicles the recent history of India, beginning in 1947 when the country became free from British rule(DISCovering). In this allegorical work, Rushdie uses the characters to represent hopes as well as the frustrating realities of India's newly found freedom. Shame is Rushdie's third book. In this work he presents an astonishing account of events in an unnamed country that strongly resembles Pakistan. The major theme in this work is shame verses honor. The Satanic Verses is probably Rushdie's most popular and most controversial work. In this ambiguous work, Rushdie explores the themes relating to good and evil, religious faith and fanaticism, illusion verses reality, and the plight of Indians who have relocated to Great Britain. Through extended dream sequences, Rushdie is able to blur the distinction between reality and imagination (DISCovering).
"What Salmon Rushdie stands for, is the right to secularism, pluralism, freedom of expression, tolerance--values that I hope we are all united in supporting (Sontag) ."
In every work of Rushdie's, there is meaning. He does not write frivolously, but instead examines different afflictions that plague today's society. Grimus had received both positive and negative criticism, but was established as a great literary work and a beneficial start to his writing career. Midnight's Children received the 1981 Booker Bridge Award, which had placed Rushdie into the elite of India's writing circle (Gunton 364). However, as one critic said, "Midnight's Children is a brilliant piece of writing, But for a novel it lacks direction and a point of focus (Gunton 367)." Rushdie's third novel, Shame, was highly acclaimed, and was said, "to have done for Pakistan, what Midnight's Children had done for India," which was to show that the shameless culture of Pakistan was inflicting on the personalities of individuals (DISCovering). Rushdie's most criticized and controversial work, The Satanic Verses, received the Whitbread prize in 1988, However, this award did not come without a cost. When Rushdie published this work, he sent the Muslim religious leaders, as well as Islamic scholars, into an uproar to the extent where a death order was placed on Rushdie. Some Muslims claim that Rushdie violated taboos by making irreverent references to people, places, and objects sacred to Islam (DISCovering). "Whatever his accomplishments as a novelist, Rushdie is completely at home in the genre of news feature and editorial, and they are arguably the most confident and crafted side of his work (MIT)."
If any of Rushdie's works should be included in an eleventh grade syllabus it should be The Satanic Verses. Although this work can be criticized as disrespectful and degrading to the Islamic community, it is purely a remarkable example of freedom of expression. In a society that tends to restrict young adults, and the expression of young vigorous minds, it is important to demonstrate assertive literary works. Rushdie also shows character and strength in the struggle that he has gone through because of the people who opposed his work. This element of Rushdie is very significant because it shows what courage is all about, and how important it is to remain faithful to your own personal beliefs. Besides the benefit of personal growth, eleventh graders would also be reading an award winning literary work that is rather unique in form and nature. And with Rushdie being a modern writer, who is still living, it may be easier to understand where Rushdie draws his ideas, and why he does so. The Satanic Verses is not his only award winning book, or the only book of Rushdie's that is unique and eloquent in form, However, it is the most expressionate in personal beliefs, something that in today's English classes is lacking. Going into the twenty-first century, the youth of today need to express themselves to be great leaders of tomorrow. The Satanic Verses is a good example of how one man expressed himself, an example that should be followed.
Salmon Rushdie is not only a remarkable writer but also a remarkable man. In his works and in his life he "refuses to be terrorized (MIT)." Rushdie writes for the pure enjoyment of writing. He is aware that not everyone will appreciate his works, but should this prevent him from doing what he loves? Rushdie has set a good example to follow. Each and every person should be able to say, " I am not scared of you (MIT)," as Rushdie has done. Because if that can not be done, then terrorism will continue to plague society. "The purpose of terrorism is to terrorize. The only defense against terrorism is to refuse to be terrorized (MIT)."