Sympathy for the Devil: (Re)Reading The Satanic Verses after 9/11 and Learning to Love the Monster (Within)

Lindsay Balfour


This essay seeks to understand the extent to which Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses troubles dominant constructions of the grotesque in order to comprehend whether and how much we can be “beckoned” or “interpellated” by lives that are different from our own. Rushdie’s novel and, in particular, the character of Saladin Chamcha, offer a challenge to the rhetorical binaries of anti-terrorism discourse that seek to divide the world between innocent victims and terrorist others. (Re)reading The Satanic Verses in the context of the War on Terror destabilizes dominant constructions of monstrous otherness by appropriating instances of the grotesque. This essay will provide a close reading of the parallels between Chamcha’s “descent” into monstrosity and the anti-terrorist discourse of contemporary Britain to consider instances of monstrosity and the grotesque as openings to a new way of apprehending others in a post 9/11 world.


monsters; terror; violence; ethics; Satanic Verses

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