Novelist Salman Rushdie is no stranger to literary controversy (being the target of an infamous 1989 fatwa after the publication of his novel The Satanic Verses), but now it’s not his novels but his Goodreads ratings of classic works of fiction that are garnering heavy criticism.
Readers disagreed with Rushdie’s low ratings of novels such as Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird (to which he awarded 3 out of 5 stars) and Kingsley Amis’ Lucky Jim (a harsh 1 star).
Rusdhie has responded to the backlash by claiming ignorance of how Goodreads worked:
I’m so clumsy in this new world of social media sometimes. 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.
Later he said he “was just fooling around, experimenting with the site. Pls don’t take [the ratings] seriously.”
The literary works that ranked highly in Rushdie’s opinion were The Great Gatsby, Evelyn Waugh’s A Handful of Dust, and his literary rival V. S. Naipaul’s A House for Ms. Biswas earning 5 star ratings from the author.