It was reported by many news outlets such as The Independent and Telegraph that Rushdie gave bad reviews to some beloved classics. On Goodreads.com he gave Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis one star and To Kill A Mocking Bird by Harper Lee just three. There were a slew of other well-known novels that he gave equally bad ratings. When asked about this, Rushdie admitted that he didn’t know the ratings were public and that he thought the purpose was for Goodreads to give you better recommendations based on your personal taste. It’s believable. But what is unbelievable is that he is getting reprimanded for inadvertently publicizing his low rating of certain well-known books. Rushdie wrote in response to critics:
“I thought these rankings were a private thing designed to tell the site what sort of book to recommend to me, or not recommend. Turns out they are public. Stupid me. Well, I don’t like the work of Kingsley Amis, there it is. I don’t have to explain or justify. It’s allowed,”
He’s right, just because a novel is considered a classic or it has won awards, doesn’t mean that everyone is obligated to like it or have the same opinion about it. Is that not the point of great literature – to cultivate conversation, perspectives, and opinions? Rushdie probably didn’t mean to make his ratings public, but he certainly should not have to apologize for them. Rushdie knows well what it is like to receive scorn and even death threats for one’s writing; for years he endured death threats by Iranian religious leaders for his book The Satanic Verses. Instead of gawking at Mr. Rushdie’s unexpected views on certain beloved novels, let’s praise our freedom of thought and speech that allows us to even have opinions in the first place.