Suddenly, and uncharacteristically, for she was a happy, sweet-natured child, not a rebel, the claustrophobic pressure of urban life became too much for her. She picked up a stone from the street and hurled it with all her might at the glass window of a shop selling numdah rugs. “I don’t know why I did it,” she told Firdaus years later. “The city seemed to be a kind of illusion, and the stone was a way of making it vanish so that the forest could reappear. Maybe that was it, but I really can’t be sure. We are mysteries to ourselves. We don’t know why we do things, why we fall in love or commit murder or throw a stone at a sheet of glass.”

– Salman Rushdie, Shalimar the Clown

‘These agitated periods of sleep-speech were mercifully brief, and when they ended she would subside for a time, sweating and panting, into a state of dreamless exhaustion. Then abruptly she would awake again, convinced, in her disoriented state, that there was an intruder in her bedroom. There was no intruder. The intruder was an absence, a negative space in the darkness. She had no mother. Her mother had died giving her birth: the ambassador’s wife had told her this much, and the ambassador, her father, had confirmed it. Her mother had been Kashmiri, and was lost to her, like paradise, like Kashmir, in a time before memory.’

– Salman Rushdie, Shalimar the Clown

‘Some of my most creative moments are the moments between books, when I don’t know where I’m going, and my head freewheels. Things come to me unexpectedly, and can become a character or a paragraph or just a perception, all of which can turn into stories, or a novel. I work just as hard when I’m not writing a book as when I am. I sit there and let things happen, mostly I throw away the next day what I wrote the day before. But pure creativity is just seeing what shows up. Once something has shown up, then it’s more focused, and it’s more enjoyable. But this in-between time is when unexpected things happen. Things happen that I previously thought were outside my ability to imagine. They become imaginable. And they come inside. That’s where I am right now.’

– Salman Rushdie, The Art of Fiction Interview, The Paris Review

‘I thought it was silly the way the book was read as being about me. It’s not my diary. You can start close to your life, but that’s a starting place. The question is, what’s the journey? The journey is the work of art. Where do you finish up?’

– Salman Rushdie, The Art of Fiction Interview, The Paris Review

‘I wanted to make sure in this book that the story was personal, not political. I wanted people to read it and form intimate, novelistic attachments to the characters and if I did it right it won’t feel didactic, and you’ll care about everybody. I wanted to write a book with no minor characters.’

– Salman Rushdie, The Art of Fiction Interview, The Paris Review

‘Moment by moment in the writing, things would happen that I hadn’t foreseen. Something strange happened with this book. I felt completely possessed by these people, to the extent that I found myself crying over my own characters.’

– Salman Rushdie, The Art of Fiction Interview, The Paris Review