Books

Salman Rusdhie on Gods in 'Luka and the Fire of Life'

Booker Prize winning author Salman Rushdie offers his thoughts on gods, mythology, and stories.

Earlier this week, I attended a discussion between Booker Prize winning author Salman Rushdie and fairy tale scholar Maria Tatar about Rushdie's latest children's novel, Luka and the Fire of Life.

Rushdie, famous for the controversy created by his 1988 novel The Satanic Verses, has long been known for writing about religion and faith in various contexts. In Luka, a not quite sequel to Rushdie's prior children's novel, Haroun and the Sea of Stories, 12 year old Luka embarks on a quest to find the Fire of Life and save his father.

Asked about his use of gods in literature and Luka, the British novelist--and knight--had a few interesting things to say:

"[The] great pantheons were once living religions. The Greek gods were once the religion of Greece, the Roman gods ditto, and the Norse gods the same and the Aztec gods the same and so on. And they had priests and temples and no doubt inquisitions and the whole apparatus of a church. Which doesn’t attract me. But when people stop believing in [these gods] literally, they become available to us to believe in in a much more interesting way, which is in the way that we believe in literature. We find in them the truth that we find in literature rather than the truth that some priest has once told us...and the reason why I’ve always been more interested in polytheisms than monotheisms is because they’re so much more novelistic.

The monotheisms don’t have nearly such good stories. And also they’re tediously moralizing. The great, great thing about these ancient pantheons is that the gods are not moral. You know? The gods don’t say do as we do, because they behave very badly all the time. The gods are lustful and greedy and vengeful and petty and and and spiteful and malicious and capricious and stupid and they are, in other words, just like us, you know, only much, much bigger and therefore they could be just like us on a bigger scale. And so it seems to be that what interests me about them is, if you like, their human characteristics, not as some kind of repository of spirituality but as a repository of human nature...and they show us ourselves, projected onto each other and I like the idea of gods that don’t behave well, you know? [They’re] so much more enjoyable than preachy gods."

Do you agree with Rushdie? Do you enjoy the novelistic quality of Greek gods, and other polytheistic religions?

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less
3

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less
9

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image