Salman Rushdie: My next novel will be very weird

The British author usually stays silent about his work in progress for fear of jinxing his novels.

Sir Salman Rushdie has given an insight into his new novel, saying it will be “very weird”.

The Booker Prize-winning novelist, 71, usually stays quiet about his works in progress, for fear of jinxing his novels.

But the Midnight’s Children author, who is in the UK preparing to speak at the London Literature Festival, told the Press Association he was working on the “next damn thing” which should be out next year.

Family and friends of the British author, as well as his publisher, have no idea what he is writing because “it’s the one lifetime superstition that I’ve had”. 

“I think if you talk about work in progress, somehow the energy leaks out of it,” he said.

But the Satanic Verses author has shown around 60 pages of a draft to just one person, his agent.

“It’s very weird,” Sir Salman said.

“I did want someone to tell me whether this is good weird rather than bad weird. So I did show it to my agent and said, ‘Just tell me’.

“And he said, ‘I think it’s the funniest thing you’ve ever written’. Funny is hard…  So we’ll see. It’s a very strange book.”

Sir Salman, who is based in the US, has become more prolific in recent years, “maybe” because “I have a sense of running out of time”.

“Sometimes, in writers’ lives, there are little bursts….[you have to] just ride the wave while it’s there,” he said.

The Golden House writer, who speaks at the festival at the Southbank Centre on Tuesday, said heavyweight authors had been usurped by Hollywood stars when it comes to exerting influence in today’s culture.

“There was a previous generation of great writers [in the US] whose opinions were weighty. People wanted to know what they had to say. In the US, that’s not true anymore…

“If you’re George Clooney, you probably have more influence than any novelist,” the author said.

“It used to be that literature was more central to the culture and you have to admit it’s less than it used to be…. Even the best-selling novel doesn’t compare to the audience of Downton Abbey and never did.”

But the writer said there was “no reason to despair”, adding: “The novel is in good shape…. People are reading more and bookshops are opening rather than closing.”

Sir Salman Rushdie is speaking at Southbank Centre’s 12th London Literature Festival on October 23.

Information and tickets can be found at www.southbankcentre.co.uk

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