"Literature is the one place in any society where, within the secrecy of our own heads, we can hear voices talking about everything in every possible way."
-- Salman Rushdie
7:30 p.m. Wednesday, December 4, 2019
Campus Center West Auditorium, University at Albany Uptown Campus.
Free and open to the public
Salman Rushdie, one of the world's most celebrated authors, returns to Albany for a reading and conversation at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, December 4, at the University at Albany, 1400 Washington Avenue, Albany.
Best known for the novels Midnight's Children (1981) and The Satanic Verses (1988), for which he was accused of blasphemy against Islam, Rushdie's new novel Quichotte (2019) is a dazzling homage to Cervantes' Don Quixote, the 17th century mock epic that is a founding work of Western literature and the most-translated book after the Bible.
Photo by Rachel Eliza Griffiths
Publishers Weekly called Quichotte “a brilliant rendition of the cheesy, sleazy, scary pandemonium of life in modern times.” The Guardian reviewer wrote, "Rushdie’s Booker-longlisted 14th novel is certainly the work of a frisky imagination. We end up in a literary hall of mirrors, as he flirts with every genre he’s ever clapped eyes on, paying dues to Alice in Wonderland, Moby-Dick, Pinocchio, Ionesco’s Rhinoceros and Nabokov’s Lolita."
Rushdie’s novel, a second-rate writer of spy thrillers falls in love with a TV star and sets off on a cross-country quest to prove himself worthy of her hand. Quichotte is a wild ride through modern America — a society on the verge of moral and spiritual collapse — and examines racism, father–son relationships, the opioid crisis, cyber-spies, and the end of the world.
This will be Salman Rushdie's second appearance with the NYS Writers Institute. He was a featured speaker for two events at UAlbany on April 19, 2018.
That event occurred 30 years after the Ayatollah Khomeini's fatwā ordering Rushdie's execution forced the cancellation of a scheduled appearance in Albany in 1989.
“Everyone wanted him back, and on some level we felt like we deserved to have him back,” Writers Institute Assistant Director Mark Koplik told the Times Union in a story published in April 18, 2018. "[Koplik] had persevered for years with inquiries about getting Rushdie to come to Albany," the newspaper wrote.
A leading figure of world literature
Salman Rushdie is widely recognized as a leading figure of world literature. His 1981 novel, Midnight’s Children, received not only the Booker Prize, but also the 1993 “Booker of Bookers” and the 2008 “Best of the Booker,” selected from all 41 winners since the prize’s inception in 1969.
Rushdie's novels include Grimus, Midnight’s Children, Shame, The Satanic Verses, Haroun and the Sea of Stories, The Moor’s Last Sigh, The Ground Beneath Her Feet, Fury, Shalimar the Clown, The Enchantress of Florence, Luka and the Fire of Life, Two Years, Eight Months, and Twenty-Eight Nights, and The Golden House – and one collection of short stories: East, West.
He has also published four works of non-fiction – Joseph Anton, The Jaguar Smile, Imaginary Homelands, and Step Across This Line – and co-edited two anthologies, Mirrorwork and Best American Short Stories 2008. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and a Distinguished Writer in Residence at New York University.
A former president of PEN American Center, Rushdie was knighted in 2007 for services to literature.
Support provided by the UAlbany Student Association, Division of Student Affairs, Alumni Association, UAlbany Speaker Series, and University Auxiliary Services in partnership with the New York State Writers Institute.
Rushdie on writing
“I used to be much more of a planner,” Rushdie says. “When I started out, I would have to have a lot of architecture before I could start putting flesh on it. Now I understand much more clearly the magic that happens on the page: the thing you didn’t expect, the thing you couldn’t have thought of when you were making a plan.
When a book is working, the characters take over. I’ve often thought about the process as being more one of listening than of making; you sit there and listen to the people you’ve made up, they tell you what they need, and then you try and give it to them.”
Salman Rushdie and Writers Institute Founder/Executive Director William Kennedy during Rushdie's April 2018 visit to Albany. (Photo by Patrick Dodson / UAlbany)