Politics Sometimes Needs Great Literature to Save It from Itself

Source: The UnPopulist
by Peter Juul

“With Victory City, [Salman] Rushdie reminds us of the indispensable role stories play in our shared national lives — and does so with considerable assuredness. There’s more to the novel than that, of course. Rushdie celebrates the syncretic mingling of cultures and peoples throughout the book, for instance, whether it’s a Portuguese merchant bestowing the name Bisnaga upon the city through a mispronunciation or the simple reality that the empire itself is populated by adherents of multiple faiths and none at all. But that’s precisely Rushdie’s point: it matters enormously what stories we choose to tell ourselves as societies and as nations. We can understand ourselves in broad-minded, generous ways that don’t necessarily exclude other narratives — or we can do so in narrow-minded, intolerant terms that impose a certain understanding from the commanding heights of society on down, whether its through the media, laws, schools, or bureaucracy.” (03/07/23)