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Step Across This Line: Collected Nonfiction 1992-2002

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  1,132 ratings  ·  85 reviews
For all their permeability, the borders snaking across the world have never been of greater importance. This is the dance of history in our age: slow, slow, quick, quick, slow, back and forth and from side to side, we step across these fixed and shifting lines. —from Part IV

With astonishing range and depth, the essays, speeches, and opinion pieces assembled in this book ch
Paperback, 416 pages
Published September 30th 2003 by Modern Library (first published 2002)
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 ·  1,132 ratings  ·  85 reviews

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Nov 23, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: those who wish to bask in the brilliance of a fine mind
I finally returned to this book and decided to stop approaching it by doggedly slogging through the first 4/5ths of it in order to "earn" reading what I bought it for: what Rushie had to say after the Sept 11, 2001 attacks on the US. Boy am I glad I did. Here is a link to what he wrote in just the month following the attacks:

One month later and he's already sorting through the heart of the matter, unflinchingly beginning even then to turn over stones... wh
Punit Soni
Jul 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: anthologies
Somewhere in the course of this collection of his non-fiction works, Rushdie says, "[we].. are like a child picking shells on the beach never noticing the huge ocean of magnificient beauty right in front of it..". I sit mesmerized, looking around myself in awe, wondering where to start and where to end. When there is so much to know, so much that intrigues and so much that enraptures, there is sometimes a real danger of absorbing nothing or worse, wasting one's time in indecision. This book is l ...more
Jul 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
Rushdie has been hit or miss for me. I devoured Haroun and the Sea of Stories; savored Shalimar the Clown and The Ground Beneath Her Feet. but I can't seem to make myself get into Midnight's Children, I try and I stall. I've read about have of The Moor's Last Sigh and don't really mind that I don't know how it ends. I've ceased to expect much from Rushdie aside from his wonderful prose. Maybe I'll be drawn in to the story, maybe not.
Before reading this I'd never attempted his nonfiction, I'm no
May 21, 2017 rated it liked it
This is a collection of various Rushdie pieces, broadly about India, Islam, America and literary topics; through the fatwa years and after 9/11. The easy humor Rushdie finds in terrible times is disarming. The final essay about frontiers, with evocative passages on what it means to straddle frontiers with an unwanted passport, is poignant, as is the essay on his homecoming to India after the fatwa controversy cooled. With the benefit of hindsight, one often finds the cosmopolitan liberalism info ...more
Aug 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
Worth the buy purely for the long essay on The Wizard of Oz.
Georgia Roybal
Oct 20, 2012 rated it liked it
Salman Rushdie is one of my favorite authors. This book of essays gives his thoughts on a wide variety of subjects. I especially was interested in the section including his descriptions of his life under the fatwa.

I want to include some quotes from the book. The first is a precious description of the TaJ Mahal, something agreed to be pretty much indescribable.

"I had been skeptical about the visit. One of the legends of the Taj is that the hands of the master masons who built it were cut off by t
May 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Sir Salmon Rushdie is one of my most favorite, still living writers. The famous and illegal fatwa against him is by now a residual threat. It was declared at some point during the writing of the collection of essays in: Step Across this Line. Remembering how real this threat was and how readily some folks wanted to blame the victim add to the poignancy of this volume.

Introduction done... These are wonderful essays. As the title suggests the essays are about the many kinds of borders a person can
Patrick McCoy
Sep 24, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: essays
I previous enjoyed reading Salman Rushdie’s first book of essays Imaginary Homelands, so I thought I would also read Step Across This Line: Collected Essays from 1992-2002. I also enjoyed many of the essays in this volume, however, many of them were concerned with personal freedom and Islam due to this experience of having gone underground to avoid the fatawa that was on his head-which is completely understandable given the situation. However, some of his points are repeated too frequently in th ...more
Sep 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
Oh my. This is the first of Rushdie's writing I've read. I read it in bits and pieces over the course of a week, staying with a friend up in the Northwest Territories.

The essays were brilliant, each one thought-provoking, readable without being dumbed-down, and witty. Likewise, the fourth section pieces on frontiers and ideas - incredible, and absolutely warrant a re-read (or three) at a later point in time.

I knew only the basic details of the 'Rushdie affair' before I started this, so I found
Nov 16, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: libraryread
The only previous exposure (other than popular media) I'd had was the excellent (and sadly OOP) audiobook version of Haroun and the Sea of Stories, read by the author.

So far, this book a wide-ranging collection of essays, speeches & articles. Some have been more engaging than others (his look at the movie version of The Wizard of Oz was fascinating!), but I'm generally enjoying it & feel more comfortable about moving on to some of his fiction.

I did start feeling a bit of "fatwa fatigue" towar
Moira Russell
Bought this basically for the huge, enormous, gigantic essay on the Wizard of Oz which I read in the New Yorker when it came out, marveling at each turn of the page how it just went on and on and on. (There was an equally huge, enormous, gigantic essay -- not at the same time -- on Judy Garland's entire ouvre. I forget who wrote it. Probably Anthony Lane. .....hunh, nope. (I have both those issues, somewhere, moldering and yellow, in a box. In a closet. Decaying slowly in the dark.) ...more
Mar 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
One of the most important collection of essays I have ever read. He covers a wide range of topics (soccer, movies, writers, political movements, his own fatwa, India, America, etc) but his values never falter. Always he will return to the concept of freedom; what is freedom? What does it look like? Do we value it? How can we protect it? Freedom of speech and the arts. Freedom of and from religion. Freedom from political or economic or philosophical oppression. It all ties together and it all mat ...more
Sep 29, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Fabulous to see Rushdie the essayist in peak form here. Throbbing with candour and erudition, the collection offers pieces that are at times prescient, at times personal, at times deliberative and then some carefree notes-to-self that collectively offer a wide-ranging, decade-long snapshot from an intellectual engaged sincerely with politics, literature and world affairs. Having read his autobiography Joseph Anton before, the middle section containing pieces from his fatwa years held little sway ...more
Prithvi Shams
Mar 11, 2016 rated it liked it
Rushdie has a flair for painting with words, or cooking them into a sumptuous meal. But he flounders when it comes to political commentary. His view of geopolitics has that Occidental tone of the "civilizing West" vs. "to-be-civilized East", and his analysis of contemporary affairs is one dimensional. However, he is a master chef of literature and literary criticism, and perhaps, he should stick to his cuisine. ...more
Oct 04, 2019 is currently reading it
Food for thought in an era characterised by increasing polarisation, xenophobia and general mistrust of “the others”:

“Those who spend their time on guard, waiting for the barbarians to arrive, in the end don’t need any barbarians to come. In a dark variation of the ending of “The Conference of the Birds”, they themselves become the barbarians whose coming they so feared.“
Aug 05, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: essays, nonfiction
This collection opens with an interminable, overreaching, boring essay on the Wizard of Oz and closes with a smart, insightful, wide-ranging essay on the idea frontier. The filler in between is mediocre and mostly about what it's like to be Salman Rushdie.

Todd Wilhelm
Oct 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book is a collection of articles and essays. Articles on terrorism and freedom were the ones I found most interesting. These were mainly contained in Section II - Messages From the Plague Years. Most of Section One did not hold my interest.

A few good quotes:

"Moral stature is a rare quality in these degraded days. Very few writers possess it. Miller’s seems innate but was much increased because he was able to learn from his mistakes. Like Günter Grass, who was brought up in a Nazi household
Dr G
Oct 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
As a collection of non-fiction writing from 1992-2002, read in 2018, this was always going to struggle from issues of anachronism.
However, I appreciate Rushdie and am interested in his ideas, and this book popped up at a remainders sale. I could not overlook it.
There are many rewards for the reader, primarily in the writing skill, but also in some of the ideas:
He writes of, "...suffering from culturally endemic golden-ageism: that recurring, bilious nostalgia for a literary past which never, at
Vel Veeter
Apr 09, 2020 rated it liked it
Salman Rushdie has been publishing novels for 40+ years and now and in addition to that has published two collections of essays and nonfiction. This is one that cover ground from 1992-2002.

There’s a few different kinds of writings in this piece. There’s analysis of writing and politics, and I think this is Rushdie at his very best. He’s a good reader, and he’s good at making his reading clear and focused. So when he analyzes both what is true and interpretive about a novel, but also what is fasc
Lenora Good
Dec 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
I read, no, make that "devoured," his first collection of essays, Imaginary Homelands: Essays and Criticism 1981-1991 and loved every word of it. It struck me as a potpourri of subjects, each essay different from its neighbors. This book seems to be a lot of writing about the same subjects. The writing is clear, and enjoyable, but for me, too much almost repetition on a topic. I loved the first section, enjoyed the other sections, started all of the penultimate section—didn't finish most of them ...more
Talbot Hook
Sep 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Rushdie has an enviable body of work, into which he's breathed his vast, vivifying wit, clarity, and intelligence; at once worldly and place-bound, parochial and universal, his writings - novels, essays, etc. - have continuously enraptured me ever since I came across his name at the beginning of my third decade. I would like nothing more than to spend a week with him in India, so that I may be strictly, categorically humbled by my ignorance of it; as he writes in his essay on the Taj Mahal, I wo ...more
Erica Bouris
Jun 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
This collection of essays is very much of its time (decade between 1992-2002) and in fact, reading it nearly 20 years out from that makes it feel even more so I think. Rushdie is at his best when he is reflecting on the moments and stories - human ones - and steeping them in a nuanced perspective on how people and politics and culture intersect in ways that are both sharp and fluid, across time and borders. He is less effective when he indulges (overindulges?) his own personal story and narrativ ...more
Aaron Culley
Jan 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a diverse collection of Rushdie's non-fiction writings, mostly columns and editorials, along with several speeches and a few other things mixed in. Some of the pieces weren't on topics that weren't of great interest to me, but even those included moments of his characteristic snark and wit. However, his essays on current events, even over 15 years later, still seem very timely, and his arguments in favor of freedom of speech and expression against all forms of bigotry and censorship rema ...more
Rob Miech
Sep 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
His review of Wizard of Oz is brilliant. The rest of this is excellent, too.
Aug 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
If you offered me a chance to sit down to dinner with any living author, I think Salman Rushdie would be at the top of my list.
Apr 04, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: essays
This is a collection of essays and opinion columns encompassing Salman Rushdie's arrival in New York and his continuing work as a novelist and critic.

His essay on The Wizard of Oz is a beautiful piece, written as a migrant and a father, in which he explores "one final, unexpected rite of passage," when we must inevitably disappoint the expectations of our child and be exposed - like the wizard as portrayed by Frank Morgan - as humbugs.

At times, Rushdie's thought seems constrained by double stand
Jan 22, 2009 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this, because Rushdie's writing is so fluid and witty and easy to read, and because he touches on so many different subjects in this book. This is all essays and columns and stuff, and he really runs the gamut, there's a great piece that's his analysis of "The Wizard of Oz", from an adult standpoint but fully admitting that it was the first movie to ever really make a big impression on him so he's a big fan. It's intellectual and not, which makes it fun; he gets into the geometr ...more
This is Salman Rushdie's second collection of essays, which range from 1992 to 2002. Like his first collection Imaginary Homelands, I do not think that this is essentially reading for anyone but dedicated Rushdie fans, but the collection stands out as a commentary on Rushdie's place in the current literary scene.

For ultimately what pervades this collection is a sense of desperation. During the early 1990s Rushdie didn't want to speak about the controversy of The Satanic Verses and the fatwa, pre
May 07, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, nri
With great power comes great responsibility, goes the saying. In case of great writers, the power they exercise also provides great opportunities to make people listen (or in this case read) to everything they say or write.

Rushdie, literary giant in his own right, seems to exercises this great power in this collection of non fiction that is littered with gems, but is let down by what seems like mostly filler material.

Divided into 4 parts, the first part is by far the best with Rushdie discussin
Jul 26, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is sort of a strange and eclectic collection, encompassing small journalistic pieces on popular music and cinema, longer essays on literature and politics, and messages "from the plague years," i.e., his seclusion in protective custody due to Ayatollah Khomeini's fatwa for The Satanic Verses. Across all of these forms and genres, Rushdie combines his vast cultural knowledge with witty turns of phrase that never sound condescending or "high-brow."

I call this volume "strange," though, because
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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

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