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Imaginary Homelands: Essays and Criticism 1981-1991

3.96  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,038 Ratings  ·  48 Reviews
Rushdie at his most candid, impassioned, and incisive--an important and moving record of one writer's intellectual and personal odyssey. These 75 essays demonstrate Rushdie's range and prophetic vision, as he focuses on his fellow writers, on films, and on the mine-strewn ground of race, politics and religion.
Paperback, 448 pages
Published May 1st 1992 by Penguin Books (first published 1991)
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Midnight's Children by Salman RushdiePhenomena by Susan TarrThings Fall Apart by Chinua AchebeHeart of Darkness by Joseph ConradThe God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
Colonial and Post-colonial Literature
16th out of 160 books — 61 voters
The God of Small Things by Arundhati RoyA Fine Balance by Rohinton MistryThe White Tiger by Aravind AdigaMidnight's Children by Salman RushdieThe Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
Best Indian Books
277th out of 647 books — 2,015 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,170)
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Apr 23, 2016 Shane rated it really liked it
This is a fine collection of essays that encapsulates a writer’s musings over an eventful decade in his life: from his Booker win to the fatwa declared upon him.

Made up of a collection of reviews, political observations of mainly India and the UK, interviews, travels in Australia, critical appraisals of fellow writers of renown (of course, all of them have their limitations according to Salman), musings on religion, and to a final defence of his most controversial novel, The Satanic Verses, Rush
Apr 10, 2013 Indiabookstore rated it really liked it
“The word 'translation' comes, etymologically, from the Latin for 'bearing across'. Having been borne across the world, we are translated men.” Salman Rushdie compares migration to translation- some things get carried across while others are left behind. Rushdie himself has been in the unique position of forever being the migrant, a Muslim in India, an Indian in Pakistan and a brown man in Britain. All his writing is a derivative, in some form or another, of his position as a migrant. It is the ...more
Jon Stout
Jul 05, 2014 Jon Stout rated it liked it
Recommends it for: expatriots and pioneers
Recommended to Jon by: Sarah Perry-Stout
Shelves: anglo-indian
In this collection of essays from the 80’s, Salman Rushdie reviews authors, past and present, and political issues, foreign and domestic. Since Rushdie is originally Indian, now British, “foreign” and “domestic” take on shifting meanings. He observes that “Commonwealth Literature” is marginalized in England, but argues that the English language in India and in other post-colonial lands has taken on a life of its own, often appropriating British values and using them to better effect than the Bri ...more
Rosa Jamali
Nov 23, 2013 Rosa Jamali rated it it was amazing
These days I read quite a number of stuff written by my friends those who live abroad , mostly in LA and I see the main theme is struggling the American life. The texts appear in Persian yet you cannot touch it for the settings are quite different and the realtionships are not familiar , a weird sense of Imaginary Homelands!
What sounds peculiar in the literature created in an imaginary homeland is the duality you see in the characters , the identity which is shattered , the vision's obscure , v
Jan 16, 2008 Nate rated it liked it
Shelves: politics
Can somebody say, "self-absorbed"?

Salman Rushdie is the intellectual par excellence, but it seems that he strains a bit too far on this one, writing essays on everything from Edward Said to the movie Brazil to Maurice Sendak.

I liked a lot of his essays, and I think he's got an amazing, penetrating mind that is able to make perceptive and sharp commentaries on a variety of subjects, but it seems his ego outweighs his mind, and some essays just appear to be a test of how far his intellectual reac
Ayushman Khazanchi
May 27, 2014 Ayushman Khazanchi rated it liked it
The literary essays are quintessential Rushdie - insightful, thought-provoking, and even comical. They're definitely worth a read. The rest of the book, especially the notes on other authors, reads a bit like a personal diary. Interesting in some places but mostly not worth more than one -- and, in some cases, not even one -- read.
James Goldberg
Sep 24, 2012 James Goldberg rated it it was amazing
Nice to get Rushdie's intensity without the filter of fiction. He's an engaging thinker and a great writer--this collection is a great place to go if you're not up to a novel at the moment, but want a little dose of Rushdie. Liked it way better than his short fiction.
Felix Purat
Jun 17, 2015 Felix Purat rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading Imaginary Homelands is a lot like viewing the other side of the intricately engraved coin that is Salman Rushdie. For all the fantastical elements of his fiction, here he shows the realism needed to assess the wider world without sacrificing his literary talents for the sake of accessible criticism. He certainly has a lot to say, or did in the 80’s at any rate.
Those wanting to know more about India and Pakistan, places that I could know a lot more about, will find that there. I found th
Ben Lever
A few years ago, when doing research for an essay, I came across the title; I’m pretty sure an online partial-text of the titular essay gave me a useful quote, though for the life of me I can’t find it now. In any case, when I saw the physical book for five bucks on the bargain table, I figured - why not?

It turned out to be quite good, for the most part. It’s a collection of Rushdie’s essays from the 80s and 90s, and most of them are very good. For example, he discusses the notion of post-coloni
Mar 03, 2011 Tortla rated it really liked it
I read "Commonwealth Literature Does Not Exist," "Hobson-Jobson," "Is Nothing Sacred?" and "Why I have Embraced Islam." I must say, I actually prefer reading Rushdie's essays to reading his fiction. His narrative voice is more pleasant to me when it's in an essay.

Thoughts on each essay:
"Commonwealth Literature Does Not Exist"
Nicely coincides with my recent obsession with the idea of strategic essentialism. Like, in the fifth paragraph Rushdie says it's weird how there's "a school of literature w
Biswadeep Majumdar
Jun 09, 2013 Biswadeep Majumdar rated it really liked it
This is a good read for someone who likes Salman Rushdie's fiction and wants insights into the personal views of the person, beyond what can be inferred from his fiction. A series on essays and criticisms on diverse issues of importance to a person reveals much more about a person than a biographical work can (of course, most of the essays are from before the Satanic Verses Fiasco, and the person etched out from those essays is most definitely from the person who was born from that unfortunate i ...more
Aug 18, 2007 Christopher rated it really liked it
IMAGINARY HOMELANDS is a collection of Salman Rushdie's writings from 1981 to 1991. They include essays, book reviews, interviews, and random musings dating from the beginning of his popularity after his novel MIDNIGHT'S CHILDREN until the third anniversary of the death fatwa pronounced on him by the Ayatollah Khomeini for his book THE SATANIC VERSES.

As with any collection of essays, IMAGINARY HOMELANDS is inconsistent and not every essay will interest every reader. However, there's sure to be a
Nov 20, 2009 Ryl rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, reviewed
Every time I read one of Rushdie's book reviews, I end up with a list of new books to add to Mt. ToBeRead. His analysis is very sharp--you know exactly what he likes and dislikes about the books he's reviewing (and sometimes the authors as well) and there are very solid reasons behind those preferences. Imaginary Homelands is packed full of these reviews, ranging from Nadine Gordimer to Gabriel Garcia Marquez, from Gunter Grass to V.S. Naipaul.

The essays range over the usual Rushdie topics: immi
Bryan Williams
Nov 05, 2015 Bryan Williams rated it really liked it
I had no idea what to expect from this book, having never read anything by Salman Rushdie before, but I really enjoyed it. I knew that the book comprised a collection of essays but I thought that they would be all following and exploring the same theme, so I was a bit surprised when reviews of books written by other authors also appeared. Throughout it all though, I thoroughly enjoyed being exposed to the innermost thoughts and beautiful writing of this famous writer. Even when he spoke about bo ...more
Nelson Lowhim
Sep 20, 2014 Nelson Lowhim rated it really liked it
I might be in the minority on this but I like Rushdie's essays more than his fiction. Here his intelligence and clear and concise thinking comes through as he writes about other writers and events around the world (funny, I feel the same about DFW). I'll read his other essays before diving into some of his other books—fiction that is.
Apr 13, 2014 Ron rated it it was amazing
A fantastic collection of essays on literature, censorship, politics in India, and much more.

Rushdie's defense of his novel "The Satanic Verses", titled "In Good Faith" is a very powerful piece of writing.

His reviews of many works of literature is endlessly fascinating.

Highly Recommended.
Jan 25, 2016 Prctaxman rated it it was ok
I pick this book up....I put it down....etc, etc..... Rushdie is always a pleasure to read and this book of non-fiction essays is easy to read over a long period of time.

I just picked it up, again. I'm at page 173 of 479 pages. LL 3 Apr GZ
Patrick McCoy
Sep 25, 2011 Patrick McCoy rated it really liked it
Shelves: essays, criticism
Imaginary Homelands: Essays and Criticism 1981-1991 by Salman Rushdie: this is an excellent collection of mostly short pieces about a variety of subjects. From politics to religion to literature, Rushdie is well informed and opinionated. I found him particularly good on Islam and India. This kind of book is great for the gym or train, since most of the pieces are quite short. Two of the last pieces give his perspective on the fatwa that turned his life upside down after the publication of The Sa ...more
Dianne Merridith
Aug 23, 2015 Dianne Merridith rated it really liked it
I enjoyed the essays, particularly the book and author reviews. Although they went back to the 1980s, it was interesting to get Rushdie's perspective on events of those times.
Rasika Saikia
Sep 24, 2010 Rasika Saikia rated it really liked it
My favorite quote, "The word 'translation' comes, etymologically, from the Latin for 'bearing across'. Having been borne across the world, we are translated men. It is normally supposed that something always gets lost in translation; I cling, obstinately to the notion that something can also be gained." "Translated men" what exactly is that? It kept me wondering for quite sometime. A transactional activity where you gain and lose? But what do you lose? Originality? What exactly is originality? O ...more
Melusine Parry
Very helpful when you have to write a dissertation on Rushdie. Also helpful in any other context, including being generally in awe of the man.
Jan 28, 2016 Sharada rated it really liked it
A very good collection of articles.
Sep 18, 2014 Saurabh rated it liked it
Shagun Gupta
Oct 30, 2011 Shagun Gupta rated it it was amazing
The book is a living demonstration of the power of the mind. How to think beyond what the world has to offer, how the world may persecute you yet you live.

A most compelling collection of insights into contemporaries, race, religion, politics, his disconnect and suffering.

The language is easily understood, however, i suggest multiple sittings in order that you may be able to absorb each essay as an individual work and not a sub part of Imaginary Homelands
high opinion of Rian Malan's traitor's heart, interesting about Bruce Chatwin, philosophical and literary, too much so for the frame of mind i'm in nowadays - makes me yearn for pugilistic hitchens and the brilliant brevity of nabokov

will probably not read everything in this at once so it will stay on the reading shelf for a while

must read a rushdie novel at some point, though - if only to slake the thirst for a close-up view of bombay/mumbai and india
May 10, 2008 Andrés rated it really liked it
Mr Rushdie loves ideas and literature, which is his strength. He tends to believe too strongly in his objective leftism, a contradiction if ever there was one, and this is his weakness. His thoughts are interesting and provocative, though not as startling or profound as he believes they are. In spite of these deficiencies, it is difficult to not appreciate and feel some of his enthusiasm for literature and to wish yours were as genuine and long-lived.
Dec 23, 2013 Monica rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mi-a placut foarte mult, eseuri extraordinar de bine scrise. Am sa ii reiau pe cativa dintre autorii mentionati si pe care nu i-am apreciat probabil cum ar fi trebuit la prima citire.
Un citat din nenumaratele care mi-au placut: "O clipa de intuneric nu ne va orbi."
May 11, 2009 Isabelle rated it it was amazing
Het essay is uitgevonden om er een boek als dit mee te kunnen vullen. Vraag me waarom ik van boeken hou, en ik citeer Rushdie in Is nothing sacred?, de ultieme liefdesverklaring aan de literatuur. Een van de vele prachtige essays in dit boek.
Oct 03, 2012 Laurent rated it really liked it
A critical, at times poignant analyses about religion, Indian-Pakistani politics, multiculturality, the role of literature and the works of several great writers. definitively worth a read, even if you're only interested in some of those topics.
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Sir Ahmed Salman Rushdie is a novelist and essayist. Much of his early fiction is set at least partly on the Indian subcontinent. His style is often classified as magical realism, while a dominant theme of his work is the story of the many connections, disruptions and migrations between the Eastern and Western world.

His fourth novel, The Satanic Verses, led to protests from Muslims in several coun
More about Salman Rushdie...

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“Go for broke. Always try and do too much. Dispense with safety nets. Take a deep breath before you begin talking. Aim for the stars. Keep grinning. Be bloody-minded. Argue with the world. And never forget that writing is as close as we get to keeping a hold on the thousand and one things--childhood, certainties, cities, doubts, dreams, instants, phrases, parents, loves--that go on slipping , like sand, through our fingers.” 268 likes
“The word 'translation' comes, etymologically, from the Latin for 'bearing across'. Having been borne across the world, we are translated men. It is normally supposed that something always gets lost in translation; I cling, obstinately to the notion that something can also be gained.” 68 likes
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