Salman Rushdie Says “Harry Potter” Series Needs Editing

Novelist Salman Rushdie has always had strong opinions on pop culture and current affairs -- and his ruminations on Harry Potter are no exception.

While promoting his new novel “Luka and the Fire of Life” at the 92 Street Y Monday night, the British-Indian writer said he liked many of J.K. Rowling's creative ideas, but the famed series needed some serious editing.

“I've read 'em all, God help me. I had to because my son is growing up and that's what he was interested in,” said Rushdie, who went through thousands of pages of J.K. Rowling's prose so he would know what his son was “talking about.”

The bespectacled novelist, who's magical realistic fiction "The Satanic Verses" caused Iran's religious leader to issue a fatwa on him two decades ago, said that editors let J.K. get away with too much because no one wants to challenge the “goose that lays the golden eggs.”

“The long books started to have long passages that any editor would normally have the courage to cut,” Rushdie explained to NYU Journalism professor and novelist Suketu Mehta on stage.

For example, a tiresome section may start off with Harry saying “what should we do?” and then Ron piping in, “I don't know, let's ask Hermione,” after which Hermione exclaims “I don't know” and turning back to Harry and continuing a conversation a bit too long.

Before ripping on the multi-billion dollar series, Rushdie gave Rowling major props for persuading a generation of young people to read “900-page novels.”

“She has a good fantasy imagination,” he said, praising Rowling's brilliant ideas for the Pensieve (a memory time-capsule) and the magical mirror in “The Sorcerer's Stone” that reveals its viewer's greatest wish.

Rushdie also revealed he is working on a memoir, but unlike former President George Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair's recently published tomes, the novelist says he hopes to avoid the “trap of self-glorification."

Contact Us