London: Controversial writer Salman Rushdie, who was born in Mumbai and moved to Britain as a child and now lives in the United States, says his experiences led him to explore the issue of migration in his award-winning books.
Speaking at the Hay Festival of Literature and the Arts, Rushdie said: "We live in the age of migration. There are more people now living in countries in which they were not born than in the rest of human history combined."
The Hay Festival, one of the top items on Britain's cultural calendar, is sponsored by The Telegraph and runs from 31 May to 10 June.
In a conversation with Peter Florence, founder of the festival, Rushdie said: "Look at any big city in the world and you see a pluralised, hybridised, diverse culture. The end of the monoculture is the phenomenon of our generation."
He added: "I myself am a migrant, a first generation migrant to this country. A thing that happens to migrants is that they lose many of the traditional things which root identity, which root the self."
Expounding on the migrant self, The Telegraph quoted Rushdie as saying: "The roots of self are the place that you know, the community that you come from, the language that you speak and the cultural assumptions within which you grow up."
He added: "Those are the four great roots of the self and very, very often what happens to migrants is that they lose all four - they're in a different place, speaking an alien language, amongst people who don't know them and the cultural assumptions are very different. You can see that's something traumatic."
"The question both indigenous and communities of migrants have to ask themselves is the question of adaptation - what do you absorb from the world in which you live, what do you retain from the world from which you came and how do you make that transaction?"
On his Booker-winning novel 'Midnight's Children', Rushdie said he wrote it as a response to the version of India depicted by renowned novelist EM Forster, best known in India for his book, 'A Passage to India'.
Rushdie said: "I was lucky enough to have met EM Forster and I was a great admirer of A Passage To India. But when I started to write Midnight's Children, in some ways I wrote it against the Forster project - that very cool, controlled Forsterian language, which I admired but which wasnt like the India I knew."
"India isn't cool, it's hot and I began to wonder what the language might sound like that was not cool but hot, that was noisy and vulgar and crowded and sensual.
"Sometimes you find your voice by trying to write like people, and sometimes you find it by trying to write unlike people. And trying to write unlike Forster was the way I found mine," he said.
Rushdie said the reason why books endure is not that people dislike them or that there is a controversy around them.
"The reason why books endure is because there are enough people who like them. It's the only reason why books last.
"It's the people who love books that make them last, not the people who attack them."
Later in the well-attended interaction, he said: "I don't read my books, I write them. Once I've finished the many years it usually takes me to write them, I can't bear to read them, because I've spent too long with them already. I'm not advertising them very well, am I?"