“I mean, if I were publishing a book, I’d get more money,” he said.
He still plans to hold back his big swings for the traditional outfits and is at work on a novel to be published by Random House.
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Substack has cash to burn. It has raised nearly $83 million at a valuation of $650 million, and it recently acquired Cocoon, a social media app that is driven by subscriptions and does not include any advertising.
Mr. Rushdie has always been a maximalist, on the page and in life. His fiction is a highly stylized blend of magical realism and meta-theatrical storytelling, stories within stories told by multiple narrators. He has had an adventurous personal life and has been married several times. In many ways, Substack seems a natural venue for Mr. Rushdie. His catholicity of tastes and interests lends itself to the often expansive (sometimes shapeless) epistles that already make up Substack’s many thousands of newsletters.
Still, Mr. Rushdie thinks the written word has stalled when it comes to the web.
“I feel that, with this new world of information technology, literature has not yet found a really original space in there,” he said.
He added that he liked Substack’s potential for experimentation. “Just whatever comes into my head, it just gives me a way of saying something immediately, without mediators or gatekeepers,” Mr. Rushdie said.
He offered a taste of what may come in an essay collection published this year, “Languages of Truth,” a rangy work tackling everything from Shakespeare to the death of Osama bin Laden. Critics flayed the book, with one calling it a “confused vision of this century.” His most recent work of fiction, “Quichotte,” a postmodern retelling of “Don Quixote,” received a similar reception.
Mr. Rushdie’s move to Substack, a platform better known among tech bloggers and journalists, may be a coup for both parties. The novelist gives the tech start-up some literary heft, while Substack lends a modish sheen to an author entering his twilight years, a period when big-name novelists are often keeping an eye on Stockholm while pretending not to.
“Let’s see how it goes,” he said of his new experiment. “I’m as curious as anybody else.”