Jonathan Cape, £20

Step Across This Line: collected non-fiction 1992-2002 by Salman Rushdie

Travel has not broadened Rushdie's mind

Salman Rushdie is dead. The Rushdie that you knew and loved is no more, judging by the quality and content of this anthology of non-fiction. In place of his usual brilliant prose and caustic criticism, we have anodyne thoughts on the obsessions of America and the workings of a globalised world.

Rushdie's writing is as arrogant as ever: his loathing for Islam, which he sees as a reactionary ideology and an irrelevant residue of a dead civilisation, is still much in evidence. Now, however, he champions the cause of America rather than the Third World, and is concerned about anti-Americanism rather than Western injustices.

We have errant musing on Gandhi, Arthur Miller and Jorg Haider, banal excursions into Fiji, reality TV and sleaze, and half-hearted compositions on U2 and abortion in India. We are told, with a sense of discovery, that reality TV is boring, the Taj Mahal is worth visiting and dams do, as Arundhati Roy suggests, benefit the rich and drown the poor. And, if you had any doubt, you should know that Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is "a luminous work of art" and Andrew Lloyd Webber makes musical turkeys.

In his columns for The New York Times, Rushdie takes great pains to project America as a loving, caring imperial power. Anti-Americanism is so much "appalling rubbish" and anti-Americans – the whole lot – fools. America should fight terrorism at all costs, even if it leads to erosion of civil liberties: "We must send our shadow warriors against their shadow warriors".

There isn't even a slight hint that people around the world may have serious grounds for objecting to American hegemony. Or that there are rationally satisfying reasons for loathing the relentless American support for dictators, and the way that America has used brute power to tie up trade agreements. Rushdie, yesteryear's champion of doubt, has no such doubts.

The showpiece is a meandering two-part essay that gives the book its title. We are led through a series of hoops to the earth-shattering argument that America is a frontier state and the frontier is now the world. But nowhere does Rushdie acknowledge that the frontier is also the location where America forged its ideology of triumphalist, self-absorbed monoculture, founded on violence clothed in the imagery of innocence.

Corruption and incompetence is something that is to be found only in Pakistan, for which Rushdie has a deep loathing. What are we to make of his invective against the "boring", "barren" and "blinkered monoculture" of Karachi?

With dozens of ethnicities, each with their own language, only someone blind to diversity would see Karachi as monocultural. Anyone who has experienced its thrilling street-life knows the city is anything but boring.

Migrants, Rushdie tells us, are forced to face up to great questions of change and adaptation. A recent migrant to New York, Rushdie has adapted to change by dispensing with his left-wing views. When he was British, he despised the Subcontinent that he had left behind. And now that he is an American, he loathes the United Kingdom, the country that nursed and nourished him, and provided him with all the protection he needed. Let us welcome to a new Rushdie, shrink-wrapped in Americana.

Arts and Entertainment
Wonder.land Musical by Damon Albarn

Theatre

Arts and Entertainment

Film review

Arts and Entertainment
Innocent victim: Oli, a 13-year-old from Cornwall, featured in ‘Kids in Crisis?’
TV review
News
Northern exposure: social housing in Edinburgh, where Hassiba now works in a takeaway
books An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop
Arts and Entertainment
Terminator Genisys: Arnie remains doggedly true to his word as the man who said 'I'll be back', returning once more to protect Sarah Connor in a new instalment

 

film review
Arts and Entertainment

festivals
Arts and Entertainment

Final Top Gear review

TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Carl Barat perform at Glastonbury 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Richie performs live on the Pyramid stage during the third day of Glastonbury Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Buying a stairway to Hubbard: the Scientology centre in Los Angeles
film review Chilling inside views on a secretive church
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Williamson, left, and Andrew Fearn of Sleaford Mods
musicYou are nobody in public life until you have been soundly insulted by Sleaford Mods
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dew (Jess) in Bend It Like Beckham The Musical
theatreReview: Bend It Like Beckham hits back of the net on opening night
Arts and Entertainment
The young sea-faring Charles Darwin – seen here in an 1809 portrait – is to be portrayed as an Indiana Jones-style adventurer
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

    Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

    Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
    Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

    'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

    Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
    Compton Cricket Club

    Compton Cricket Club

    Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
    London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

    Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

    'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
    The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

    The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

    It helps a winner keep on winning
    Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

    Is this the future of flying?

    Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
    Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

    Isis are barbarians

    but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
    The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

    Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

    Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
    Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

    'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

    Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
    Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

    Call of the wild

    How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
    Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

    'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

    If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
    The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

    The science of swearing

    What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
    Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

    Africa on the menu

    Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
    Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

    Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

    The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'