When Salman Rushdie was a child, his father shared with him the great “wonder tales” of the East — “told them and re-told them and re-made them and re-invented them in his own way,” the acclaimed author recalled.
Taken from the magical stories of Scheherazade, the Panchatantra, the Hamzanama, and the Arabian Nights, the experience presented two unforgettable lessons:
That stories were not true, “but by being untrue they could make him feel and know truths that the truth could not tell him,” and;
The stories all belonged to him, “just as they belonged to his father and to everyone else … his to alter and renew and discard and pick up again” whenever he pleased … “to give the stories life by loving them and to be given life by them in return.”
“This is the beauty of the wonder tale and its descendant, which is fiction,” explained Rushdie, an award-winning writer of fiction, non-fiction and essays who admits that he’s most comfortable when engaged in the “art of the not true.”