The South Asian Times

19 October 2018 22:26 PM

We live in the age of migration: Rushdie

Controversial writer Salman Rushdie, who was born in Mumbai and moved to Britain as a child and now lives in the United States, says his experiences led him to explore the issue of migration in his award-winning books.

Speaking at the Hay Festival of Literature and the Arts, Rushdie said: “We live in the age of migration. There are more people now living in countries in which they were not born than in the rest of human history combined.”

The Hay Festival, one of the top items on Britain’s cultural calendar, is sponsored by The Telegraph and runs from 31 May to 10 June.

In a conversation with Peter Florence, founder of the festival, Rushdie said: “Look at any big city in the world and you see a pluralised, hybridised, diverse culture. The end of the monoculture is the phenomenon of our generation.”

He added: “I myself am a migrant, a first generation migrant to this country. A thing that happens to migrants is that they lose many of the traditional things which root identity, which root the self.”

Expounding on the migrant self, The Telegraph quoted Rushdie as saying: “The roots of self are the place that you know, the community that you come from, the language that you speak and the cultural assumptions within which you grow up.”

He added: “Those are the four great roots of the self and very, very often what happens to migrants is that they lose all four – they’re in a different place, speaking an alien language, amongst people who don’t know them and the cultural assumptions are very different. You can see that’s something traumatic.”

“The question both indigenous and communities of migrants have to ask themselves is the question of adaptation – what do you absorb from the world in which you live, what do you retain from the world from which you came and how do you make that transaction?”

On his Booker-winning novel ‘Midnight’s Children’, Rushdie said he wrote it as a response to the version of India depicted by renowned novelist EM Forster, best known in India for his book, ‘A Passage to India’.

Update: 05 June, 2012