Talks & debates

Salman Rushdie: From Midnight's Children to Trump's America

Part of London Literature Festival

The celebrated author of compulsive, daring and enduring fiction, Sir Salman Rushdie, on his life in writing and his latest novel, The Golden House.

In his first appearance at Southbank Centre in over a decade, Rushdie reflects on the full range of his writing, his remarkable life, the currents and characters in American politics that inspired his latest novel and the value of dark comedy in tumultuous times.

Rushdie established his reputation with award-winning novels Midnight's Children, The Satanic Verses and Shame. Combining biting satire with bold inventiveness, Rushdie has chronicled the postcolonial world in fiction.

The Golden House, his 13th novel, is a satirical and incisive anatomy of contemporary American politics. A prescient reimagining of Trump's America, the novel is bookended by the election of Barack Obama and the eve of an election eight years on in which the front-runner is known as 'The Joker'.

The focus of the novel is Nero Golden, a man of enormous wealth with a Russian wife who arrives in Greenwich Village with his three adult sons. The novel charts Nero's infidelities, family arguments and even his criminal activities, capturing the pressing debates of the present, from post-truth politics to gender identity.

His other novels include Haroun and the Sea of Stories, The Ground Beneath Her Feet, Shalimar the Clown, The Enchantress of Florence and Two Years, Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights, a reimagining of the Arabian Nights set in the future.

Rushdie has received many awards for his writing, including the European Union's Aristeion Prize for Literature. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and Commandeur de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.

In 1993 Midnight's Children was judged to be the 'Booker of Bookers', the best novel to have won the Booker Prize in its first 25 years. In June 2007 he received a knighthood in the Queen's Birthday Honours. A longstanding champion of free speech, Rushdie is former president of PEN American Center.

Salman Rushdie is in conversation with Erica Wagner. Born in New York City, Wagner's most recent book is Chief Engineer: Washington Roebling, the Man Who Built the Brooklyn Bridge. She is the author of Gravity: Stories, Ariel's Gift: Ted Hughes, Sylvia Plath and the Story of Birthday Letters and Seizure; she is the editor of First Light: A Celebration of Alan Garner. Twice a judge of the Man Booker Prize, she was literary editor of The Times for 17 years and is now contributing literary editor for Harper’s Bazaar and a contributing writer for the New Statesman. She was the recipient of the Eccles British Library Writer’s Award in 2014, and she is a lecturer in creative writing at Goldsmiths, University of London. She lives in London.

Dates & times

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Royal Festival Hall


£15 - £25
Booking fee: £3.00 (Members £0.00)

Multi-buy discount

£15, £25

Multi-buy discount
A multi-buy discount is available on a selection of events within London Literature Festival. Book two or more of these events in the same transaction and receive a 20% discount.


25% off (limited availability)
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need to know

Age recommendation
For ages 16+.

Multi-buy discount
A multi-buy discount is available on a selection of events within London Literature Festival. Book two or more of these events in the same transaction and receive a 20% discount.

Please note that there will be a heightened security presence in Royal Festival Hall foyers on Tuesday 23 October.

Ticket holders for this event are strongly discouraged from bringing bags to Southbank Centre.

Any large bags, travel holdalls or rucksacks brought into the venue must be checked in to the Cloakroom on Level 1 of Royal Festival Hall. Please note that there is a charge of £1 per checked item.

A discretionary bag-check policy will be in operation on the evening.

Book signing
Salman Rushdie will be signing books in The Clore Ballroom on Level 2 at Royal Festival Hall following the event. The signing will only be available to ticket holders for this event. Southbank Centre reserves the right to refuse entry to the signing should a valid ticket not be presented on arrival to The Clore Ballroom.

Please be advised that the signing is strictly limited to two books per person. Posed photographs with the author will unfortunately not be possible due to anticipated time constraints.

Access information
This event is British Sign Language interpreted (BSL) and Speech-to-Text transcribed (STT). To join our free Access Scheme and book tickets for these services, call our Ticket Office on 020 3879 9555 or email
Find out more about our Access Scheme