Thu 21 November 2019
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What attracts Sir Salman Rushdie to the lucrative world of TV?
If I were agent to a novelist whose greatest success came 30 years ago. I'd advise him to write for television, writes Michael Deacon

Salman Rushdie has switched from writing novels to scripts. For this we can thank his US agents, who told him that “what I should really think about is a TV series”.

Sir Salman’s agents are wise. Television offers a man of letters many advantages that the novel does not, such as a wide audience, a fresh challenge for his imaginative gifts, the opportunity to bring literary sophistication to a populist medium, and a large cheque. If I were the agent of a novelist whose greatest success came 30 years ago, I’d endorse the opportunity to bring literary sophistication to a populist medium, too.

I am no authority on Sir Salman’s novels, having yet to finish one. All the same, I’ve read enough to appreciate why he is put off writing for Hollywood, with its tawdry commercialism, its terror of artistic risk-taking, and its yobbish insistence on comprehensibility and discernible storylines.

In Hollywood, complains Sir Salman, the writer is never “the primary creative artist”. This is true, as one of his literary friends has no doubt told him. In the mid-1990s, Martin Amis was hired to work on the screenplay for Mars Attacks! by Tim Burton. “I rather liked the film,” said Amis later, “although it contained not a word I wrote.”

The Telegraph

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