The Best English-Language Fiction of the Twentieth Century
A Composite List and Ranking
by Brian Kunde


<- Rushdie, Salman, 1947-
         Full name: Ahmed Salman Rushdie. British Indian novelist of Kashmiri Muslim descent born in Bombay, resident in the United States since 2000. Most of his work is set in South Asia and merges historical fiction with magical realism. His writings have made him a cause célèbre, controversial in the Muslim world but lauded on civil rights and religious freedom grounds in the West. A recipient of numerous literary awards, he was knighted in 2007.
  • <- Midnight's Children. 1981.
             Saleem Sinai is a boy born at midnight of August 15, 1947, the moment of India's independence, and seemingly in consequence possessed of special powers, one of hundreds of children so blessed born in the nation's first hour. Saleem serves as a telepathic link between these "midnight's children." The first several decades of India's nationhood are seen through the eyes and experiences of Saleem, his family, and the other children. Awarded the Booker Prize and the English Speaking Union Literary Award and shared the James Tait Black Memorial Prize in 1981, the special Booker of Bookers prize in 1993 and the special Best of the Booker prize in 2008. Adapted to stage in 2003 and film in 2012.
  • <- The Satanic Verses. 1988.
             Gibreel Farishta and Saladin Chamcha, expatriate Indian actors living in Britain, are miraculously saved from the explosion of a hijacked plane, thereafter taking on aspects of an angel and devil, respectively. Farishta tries to resume his former life under the shadow of increasing mental illness, while Chamcha, feeling forsaken in the wake of their magical preservation, seeks to ruin him. Farishta forgives and saves Chamcha, but ultimately commits suicide after murdering his English lover in a fit of jealous insanity. The redeemed Chamcha successfully reintegrates with his family and heritage. The narrative is enriched by dream visions experienced by Farishta, among them one involving a historically attested revelation of Mohammed seeming to favor some elements of the old polytheism supplanted by Islam, later recanted. This sequence was found offensive by some devout Muslims and led to violent protests and death threats against the author, most infamously embodied in a fatwa by Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini. The novel was a finalist for the Booker Prize in 1988 and winner of the 1988 Whitbread Award for novel of the year. It remains banned in most Muslim countries.

Posted Jan. 6, 2014, and last updated Jan. 6, 2014.
Please report any errors to the compiler.
Published by Fleabonnet Press.
The source list data is public domain.
Additional material © 1999-2014 by Brian Kunde.