Literary Stars, They’re Just Like Like Us!

Photo credit: PowerHouse Arena Tumblr
Of course Salman Rushdie went to Brooklyn to promote his last book. (Photo credit: PowerHouse Arena Tumblr)

Salman Rushdie has had a pretty dramatic life. The author spent a decade in hiding after Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa calling for his death after the publication of The Satanic Verses and Al Queda still has him on a hit list. He is a knight. He has been married four times, most recently to Top Chef/model Padma Lakshmi.

But after reading a Q&A with Sir Rushdie in the forthcoming New York Times Book Review, we realized that the author of 12 novels (his most recent,Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights, comes out on Tuesday) and four works of non-fiction sounds pretty much like any writer we might run into on Twitter or at a cocktail party in Brooklyn.

How? Let’s take a look.

  • Salman Rushdie is less worried about being a terrorist target than he is about the tote-bag wielding editors. Also, when asked about being on Al Qaeda’s hit list, he managed to reference the fact that he is no stranger to being listed on lists by magazines. Smooth move! “A lot of magazines put me on lists. I think I’m in more danger from n+1 [the literary magazine] than from Al Qaeda.”
  • Salman Rushdie does not know what to think about the Iran deal. He’s a writer: “I’m on that strange ground where I don’t quite know what I think. Which is all right — I’m a novelist. Fortunately I don’t have to rule the world.”
  • Salman Rushdie has heard of Snapchat but doesn’t use it.
  • Salman Rushdie was developing a show for a prestige cable channel (not HBO, but still!), but it ultimately didn’t go anywhere: “That died, like all these things do. The thing that I had been developing for Showtime was also a kind of a parallel world story, in which it was our earth and another variation of it, and they somehow come into contact with each other.”
  • Salman Rushdie has feelings about Twitter: “I have very up and down feelings about Twitter. There are long periods where I can’t be bothered.”
  • Of course, there are things Salman Rushdie does like about Twitter (like his many Twitter followers): “I like it for bringing me information. And, of course, it’s useful to be able to tell people you just published a book, when there’s a million people following you.”
  • But even though Salman Rushdie has a lot of followers, other writers have more and that’s kind of demoralizing. Not to mention non-writer celebrities, who have even more followers (and they aren’t even writers!): “Then you look at Neil Gaiman, and then you begin to feel ashamed of just a million people. And then you get to the real enormous intellectuals of Twitter, you get to Justin Bieber and Kim Kardashian, and then you just feel like a worm. Just a million.”
  • In fact, Salman Rushdie sometimes sees Jonathan Franzen’s point: “There are times when I kind of agree with Jonathan Franzen’s view that you should just stay away from the stuff.”

See? Salman Rushdie. He’s just like us! Literary Stars, They’re Just Like Like Us!