If you are thinking about writing a memoir or family history or are just a lover of life writing, The You Tube video of the interview between novelist Salman Rushdie and Emory University Vice President Rosemary Magee recorded on February 27, 2011 as part of the university’s “Creativity Conversations” series is for you.
Rushdie, author of the Booker Prize-winning novel Midnight’s Children, The Satanic Verses which earned him a flood of death threats including a fatwa from the Ayatollah Khomeini, and, one of my favorites, Shalimar the Clown was in the process of writing a memoir Joseph Anton at the time of the conversation.
He reflects on memory and writing memoir, nonfiction and history and how an author must draw upon the tools of fiction to produce a great memoir. The reason, he explains, is that:
What you have to do on the page is the same thing you have to do in a novel, which is to make people come to life. …Because if you can’t make them live on the page, it doesn’t matter that they really lived. The reader doesn’t experience them as living. In that sense it’s completely novelistic.
The conversation will give you not only ideas for your own writing and insight into the writing of a master, but an entertaining experience as well.
Leave a comment about your thoughts concerning what Rushie has to say about writing nonfiction.