Salman Rushdie, Step Across This Line
2008 | Label: Recorded Books
What do you do if a cleric calls on Muslims everywhere to assassinate you for a book you’ve written? If you’re Salman Rushdie, you use your new worldwide fame to talk about everything from America the hegemon to U2. Step Across This Line proves Rushdie to be a public intellectual worthy of the cultural authority granted him in the wake of the fatwa, as well as a newly minted American poised between East and West and well-suited to making sense of realities post-9/11. Consumed with the border regions and cultural strife that animates his best novels, this collection of a decade of Rushdie’s nonfiction is part meditation on a new home (New York City), part reminiscence on literary influences (Calvino, Virgil, Dickens), and part analysis of the globalized culture that led to — and ultimately ended — the fatwa. The many pieces Rushdie wrote about Muslim extremists in the ’90s now look prophetic, while his personal musings on the idea of home and exile will ring familiar to anyone who has gone out to explore the world, or who wants to. Like the best nonfiction, the essays in Step Across This Line have remained relevant, both as dispatches from disparate places in world culture and as clues toward the mind of the man who wrote The Satanic Verses.