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Salman Rushdie

At a breakfast honouring Amos Oz in September 2008
Born Ahmed Salman Rushdie
19 June 1947 (1947-06-19) (age 62)
Bombay, British India
Occupation Novelist, essayist
Nationality Indian, British
Genres Magic Realism, Satire, Post-Colonialism
Subjects Criticism, travel
Spouse(s) Clarissa Luard (1976–1987)
Marianne Wiggins (1988–1993)
Elizabeth West (1997–2004)
Padma Lakshmi (2004–2007)

Sir Ahmed Salman Rushdie, KBE (English pronunciation: /sælˈmɑːn ˈrʊʃdi/[1]; born 19 June 1947) is a British-Indian novelist and essayist. He achieved notability with his second novel, Midnight's Children (1981), which won the Booker Prize in 1981. Much of his fiction is set on the Indian subcontinent. His style is often classified as magical realism mixed with historical fiction, and a dominant theme of his work is the story of the many connections, disruptions and migrations between the Eastern and Western world.

His fourth novel, The Satanic Verses (1988), was the centre of The Satanic Verses controversy, with protests from Muslims in several countries. Some of the protests were violent, with Rushdie facing death threats and a fatwā issued by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the Supreme Leader of Iran, in February 1989.

He was appointed a Knight Bachelor by Queen Elizabeth II for "services to literature" in June 2007.[2] He holds the rank Commandeur in the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres of France. He began a five-year term as Distinguished Writer in Residence at Emory University in 2007.[3] In May 2008 he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 2008, The Times ranked Rushdie thirteenth on their list of "The 50 greatest British writers since 1945".[4] His latest novel is The Enchantress of Florence, published in June 2008.[5]


Personal life

Actress Pia Glenn with Rushdie at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival Vanity Fair party.

The only son of Anis Ahmed Rushdie, a University of Cambridge-educated lawyer turned businessman, and Negin Bhatt, a teacher, Rushdie was born in Bombay (presently known as Mumbai), India.[6][7] He was educated at Cathedral and John Connon School in Mumbai, Rugby School, and King's College, Cambridge, where he studied history. He worked for two advertising agencies (Ogilvy & Mather and Ayer Barker) before becoming a full-time writer.[8]

Rushdie has been married four times. He was married to his first wife Clarissa Luard from 1976 to 1987 and fathered a son, Zafar. His second wife was the American novelist Marianne Wiggins; they were married in 1988 and divorced in 1993. His third wife, from 1997 to 2004, was Elizabeth West; they have a son, Milan. In 2004, he married the Indian American actress and supermodel Padma Lakshmi, the host of the American reality-television show Top Chef. The marriage ended on 2 July 2007 with Lakshmi indicating that it was her desire to end the marriage. In the Bollywood press, he was, in 2008, romantically linked to the Indian model Riya Sen, with whom he was otherwise a friend.[9] In response to the media speculation about their friendship, she simply stated "I think when you are Salman Rushdie, you must get bored with people who always want to talk to you about literature." [10]

In 1999, Rushdie had an operation to correct ptosis, a "tendon condition" that causes drooping eyelids and which, according to him, was making it increasingly difficult for him to open his eyes. "If I hadn't had an operation, in a couple of years from now I wouldn't have been able to open my eyes at all," he said.[11]


Major literary work

His first novel, Grimus, a part-science fiction tale, was generally ignored by the public and literary critics. His next novel, Midnight's Children, catapulted him to literary notability. It significantly shaped the course that Indian writing in English would follow over the next decade, and is regarded by many as one of the great books of the last 100 years. This work won the 1981 Booker Prize and, in 1993 and 2008, was awarded the Best of the Bookers as the best novel to have received the prize during its first 25 and 40 years.[12] Midnight's Children follows the life of a child, born at the stroke of midnight as India gained its independence, who is endowed with special powers and a connection to other children born at the dawn of a new and tumultuous age in the history of the Indian sub-continent and the birth of the modern nation of India. The character of Saleem Sinai has been compared to Rushdie.[13]

After Midnight's Children, Rushdie wrote Shame (1983), in which he depicts the political turmoil in Pakistan, basing his characters on Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq. Shame won France's Prix du Meilleur Livre Étranger (Best Foreign Book) and was a close runner-up for the Booker Prize. Both these works of postcolonial literature are characterised by a style of magic realism and the immigrant outlook of which Rushdie is very conscious, as a member of the Indian diaspora.

Rushdie wrote a non-fiction book about Nicaragua in the 1980s, The Jaguar Smile (1987). The book has a political focus and is based on his first hand experiences and research at the scene of Sandinista political experiments.

His most controversial work, The Satanic Verses, was published in 1988 (see section below). Rushdie has published many short stories, including those collected in East, West (1994). The Moor's Last Sigh, a family epic ranging over some 100 years of India's history was published in 1995. The Ground Beneath Her Feet (1999) presents an alternative history of modern rock music. The song of the same name by U2 is one of many song lyrics included in the book, hence Rushdie is credited as the lyricist.

Salman Rushdie presenting his book Shalimar the Clown

Rushdie has had a string of commercially successful and critically acclaimed novels. His 2005 novel Shalimar the Clown received, in India, the prestigious Hutch Crossword Book Award, and was, in Britain, a finalist for the Whitbread Book Awards. It was shortlisted for the 2007 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.[14]

In his 2002 nonfiction collection Step Across This Line, he professes his admiration for the Italian writer Italo Calvino and the American writer Thomas Pynchon, among others. His early influences included James Joyce, Günter Grass, Jorge Luis Borges, Mikhail Bulgakov, and Lewis Carroll. Rushdie was a personal friend of Angela Carter and praised her highly in the foreword for her collection Burning your Boats.

Other activities

Rushdie has quietly mentored younger Indian (and ethnic-Indian) writers, influenced an entire generation of Indo-Anglian writers, and is an influential writer in postcolonial literature in general.[15] He has received many plaudits for his writings, including the European Union's Aristeion Prize for Literature, the Premio Grinzane Cavour (Italy), and the Writer of the Year Award in Germany and many of literature's highest honours.[16] Rushdie was the President of PEN American Center from 2004 to 2006.

He opposes the British government's introduction of the Racial and Religious Hatred Act, something he writes about in his contribution to Free Expression Is No Offence, a collection of essays by several writers, published by Penguin in November 2005. Rushdie is a self-described atheist[citation needed], and a distinguished supporter of the British Humanist Association.

Salman Rushdie having a discussion with Emory University students

In 2006, Rushdie joined the Emory University faculty as Distinguished Writer in Residence for one month a year for the next five years.[17] Though he enjoys writing, Salman Rushdie says that he would have become an actor if his writing career had not been successful. Even from early childhood, he dreamed of appearing in Hollywood movies (which he would later realize in his frequent cameo appearances).

Rushdie includes fictional television and movie characters in some of his writings. He had a cameo appearance in the film Bridget Jones's Diary based on the book of the same name, which is itself full of literary in-jokes. On 12 May 2006, Rushdie was a guest host on The Charlie Rose Show, where he interviewed Indo-Canadian filmmaker Deepa Mehta, whose 2005 film, Water, faced violent protests. He appears in the role of Helen Hunt's obstetrician-gynecologist in the film adaptation (Hunt's directorial debut) of Elinor Lipman's novel Then She Found Me. In September 2008, and again in March 2009, he appeared as a panelist on the HBO program "Real Time With Bill Maher".

Rushdie is currently collaborating on the screenplay for the cinematic adaptation of his novel Midnight's Children with noted director Deepa Mehta. The film will be called Midnight's Children. [18][19] While casting is still in progress, Seema Biswas, Shabana Azmi, Nandita Das, [20] and Irrfan Khan are confirmed as participating in the film.[21] Mehta has stated that production will begin in September, 2010.[22]

The Satanic Verses and the fatwā

The publication of The Satanic Verses in September 1988 caused immediate controversy in the Islamic world because of what was perceived as an irreverent depiction of the prophet Muhammad. The title refers to a disputed Muslim tradition that is related in the book. According to this tradition, Muhammad (Mahound in the book) added verses (sura) to the Qur'an accepting three goddesses who used to be worshipped in Mecca as divine beings. According to the legend, Muhammad later revoked the verses, saying the devil tempted him to utter these lines to appease the Meccans (hence the "Satanic" verses). However, the narrator reveals to the reader that these disputed verses were actually from the mouth of the Archangel Gibreel. The book was banned in many countries with large Muslim communities.

On 14 February 1989, a fatwā requiring Rushdie's execution was proclaimed on Radio Tehran by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the spiritual leader of Iran at the time, calling the book "blasphemous against Islam" (chapter IV of the book depicts the character of an Imam in exile who returns to incite revolt from the people of his country with no regard for their safety). A bounty was offered for Rushdie's death, and he was thus forced to live under police protection for years afterward. On 7 March 1989, the United Kingdom and Iran broke diplomatic relations over the Rushdie controversy.

The publication of the book and the fatwā sparked violence around the world, with bookstores being firebombed. Muslim communities in several nations in the West held public rallies in which copies of the book were burned. Several people associated with translating or publishing the book were attacked, seriously injured, and even killed.[23] Many more people died in riots in Third World countries.

On 24 September 1998, as a precondition to the restoration of diplomatic relations with Britain, the Iranian government, then headed by Mohammad Khatami, gave a public commitment that it would "neither support nor hinder assassination operations on Rushdie."[24][25]

Hardliners in Iran have continued to reaffirm the death sentence.[26] In early 2005, Khomeini's fatwā was reaffirmed by Iran's spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in a message to Muslim pilgrims making the annual pilgrimage to Mecca.[27] Additionally, the Revolutionary Guards have declared that the death sentence on him is still valid.[28] Iran has rejected requests to withdraw the fatwā on the basis that only the person who issued it may withdraw it,[27] and the person who issued it – Ayatollah Khomeini – has been dead since 1989.

Rushdie has reported that he still receives a "sort of Valentine's card" from Iran each year on 14 February letting him know the country has not forgotten the vow to kill him. He said, "It's reached the point where it's a piece of rhetoric rather than a real threat."[29] Despite the threats on Rushdie, he has publicly said that his family has never been threatened and that his mother (who lived in Pakistan during the later years of her life) even received outpourings of support.[30]

A former bodyguard to Rushdie, Ron Evans, planned to publish a book recounting the behaviour of the author during the time he was in hiding. Evans claimed that Rushdie tried to profit financially from the fatwa and was suicidal, but Rushdie dismissed the book as a "bunch of lies" and took legal action against Ron Evans, his co-author and their publisher.[31] On 26 August 2008 Rushdie received an apology at the High Court in London from all three parties.[32]

Failed assassination attempt and Hezbollah's comments

On 3 August 1989, while Mustafa Mahmoud Mazeh was priming a book bomb loaded with RDX explosives in a hotel in Paddington, Central London, the bomb exploded prematurely, taking out two floors of the hotel and killing Mazeh. A previously unknown Lebanese group, the Organization of the Mujahidin of Islam, said he died preparing an attack "on the apostate Rushdie". There is a shrine in Tehran's Behesht-e Zahra cemetery for Mustafa Mahmoud Mazeh that says he was "Martyred in London, 3 August 1989. The first martyr to die on a mission to kill Salman Rushdie." Mazeh's mother was invited to relocate to Iran, and the Islamic World Movement of Martyrs' Commemoration built his shrine in the cemetery that holds thousands of Iranian soldiers slain in the Iran–Iraq War.[24] During the 2006 Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah declared that "If there had been a Muslim to carry out Imam Khomeini's fatwā against the renegade Salman Rushdie, this rabble who insult our Prophet Mohammed in Denmark, Norway and France would not have dared to do so. I am sure there are millions of Muslims who are ready to give their lives to defend our prophet's honour and we have to be ready to do anything for that."[33] James Phillips of the Heritage Foundation testified before the United States Congress that a "March 1989" (sic) explosion in Britain was a Hezbollah attempt to assassinate Rushdie which failed when a bomb exploded prematurely, killing a Hezbollah activist in London.[34]

International Gorillay

In 1990, soon after the publication of The Satanic Verses, a Pakistani film entitled International Gorillay (International Guerillas) was released in which Rushdie was depicted plotting to cause the downfall of Pakistan by opening a chain of casinos and discos in the country. The film was popular with Pakistani audiences, and it "presents Rushdie as a Rambo-like figure pursued by four Pakistani guerrillas".[35] The British Board of Film Classification refused to allow it a certificate, as "it was felt that the portrayal of Rushdie might qualify as criminal libel, causing a breach of the peace as opposed to merely tarnishing his reputation."[36] This move effectively banned the film in Britain outright. However, two months later, Rushdie himself wrote to the board, saying that while he thought the film "a distorted, incompetent piece of trash", he would not sue if it were released.[36] He later said, "If that film had been banned, it would have become the hottest video in town: everyone would have seen it".[36] While the film was a great hit in Pakistan, it went virtually unnoticed in the West.[36] He has said that there was one legitimately funny part of the movie, his character torturing a muslim character with an audio recording of his book The Satanic Verses.


Rushdie was made a Knight Bachelor for services to literature in the Queen's Birthday Honours on 16 June 2007. He remarked, "I am thrilled and humbled to receive this great honour, and am very grateful that my work has been recognized in this way."[37] In response to his knighthood, many nations with Muslim majorities protested. Parliamentarians of several of these countries condemned the action, and Iran and Pakistan called in their British envoys to protest formally. Controversial condemnation issued by Pakistan's Religious Affairs Minister Muhammad Ijaz-ul-Haq was in turn rebuffed by former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. Ironically, their respective fathers Zia-ul-Haq and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto had been earlier portrayed in Rushdie's novel Shame. Mass demonstrations against Rushdie's knighthood took place in Pakistan and Malaysia. Several called publicly for his death. Some non-Muslims were disappointed by Rushdie's knighthood, believing that the writer did not merit such an honour.[38]

Al-Qaeda has condemned the Rushdie honour. The Al-Qaeda deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri is quoted as saying in an audio recording that Britain's award for Indian-born Rushdie was "an insult to Islam", and it was planning "a very precise response."[39]

Religious and political beliefs

Rushdie came from a Shi'ite Muslim family but says that he was never really religious. In 1990, in the "hope that it would reduce the threat of Muslims acting on the fatwa to kill him," he issued a statement in which he claimed "he had renewed his Muslim faith, had repudiated the attacks on Islam in his novel and was committed to working for better understanding of the religion across the world." However, Rushdie later said that he was only "pretending".[40]

His books often focus on the role of religion in society and conflicts between faiths and between the religious and those of no faith.

Rushdie advocates the application of higher criticism, pioneered during the late 19th century. Rushdie calls for a reform in Islam[41] in a guest opinion piece printed in The Washington Post and The Times in mid-August 2005. Excerpts from his speech:

What is needed is a move beyond tradition, nothing less than a reform movement to bring the core concepts of Islam into the modern age, a Muslim Reformation to combat not only the jihadist ideologues but also the dusty, stifling seminaries of the traditionalists, throwing open the windows to let in much-needed fresh air. (...) It is high time, for starters, that Muslims were able to study the revelation of their religion as an event inside history, not supernaturally above it. (...) Broad-mindedness is related to tolerance; open-mindedness is the sibling of peace.

Rushdie supported the 1999 NATO bombing of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, leading the leftist Tariq Ali to label Rushdie and other "warrior writers" as "the belligerati'".[42] He was supportive of the US-led campaign to remove the Taliban in Afghanistan which began in 2001, but was a vocal critic of the 2003 war in Iraq. He has stated that while there was a "case to be made for the removal of Saddam Hussein", US unilateral military intervention was unjustifiable.[43]

In the wake of the 'Danish Cartoons Affair' in March 2006 – which many considered to be an echo of the death threats and fatwā which had followed the publication of The Satanic Verses in 1989[44] – Rushdie signed the manifesto 'Together Facing the New Totalitarianism', a statement warning of the dangers of religious extremism. The Manifesto was published in the left-leaning French weekly Charlie Hebdo in March 2006.

In 2006, Rushdie stated that he supported comments by the then-Leader of the House of Commons Jack Straw, who criticised the wearing of the niqab (a veil that covers all of the face except the eyes). Rushdie stated that his three sisters would never wear the veil. He said, "I think the battle against the veil has been a long and continuing battle against the limitation of women, so in that sense I'm completely on [Straw's] side."[45]

Rushdie continues to come under fire from much[citation needed] of the British academic establishment for his political views. The Marxist critic Terry Eagleton, a former admirer of Rushdie's work, attacked him for his positions, saying he "cheered on the Pentagon's criminal ventures in Iraq and Afghanistan".[46] However, he subsequently apologized for having misrepresented Rushdie's views.

At an appearance at 92nd Street Y, Rushdie expressed his view on copyright when answering a question whether he had considered copyright law a barrier (or impediment) to free speech.

No. But that's because I write for a living, [laughs] and I have no other source of income, and I naïvely believe that stuff that I create belongs to me, and that if you want it you might have to give me some cash. [...] My view is I do this for a living. The thing wouldn't exist if I didn't make it and so it belongs to me and don't steal it. You know. It's my stuff.[47]

When Amnesty International suspended human rights activist Gita Sahgal for saying to the press that she thought AI should distance itself from Mozzam Begg and his organization, Rushdie said:

Amnesty ... has done its reputation incalculable damage by allying itself with Moazzam Begg and his group Cageprisoners, and holding them up as human rights advocates. It looks very much as if Amnesty's leadership is suffering from a kind of moral bankruptcy, and has lost the ability to distinguish right from wrong. It has greatly compounded its error by suspending the redoubtable Gita Sahgal for the crime of going public with her concerns. Gita Sahgal is a woman of immense integrity and distinction.... It is people like Gita Sahgal who are the true voices of the human rights movement; Amnesty and Begg have revealed, by their statements and actions, that they deserve our contempt.[48]





See also


  1. ^ Pointon, Graham (ed.): BBC Pronouncing Dictionary of British Names, 2nd edition. Oxford Paperbacks, 1990.
  2. ^ "The UK Honours System — Queen's birthday list 2007" (PDF). Ceremonial Secretariat, Cabinet Office. 2007. Retrieved 2007-06-28. 
  3. ^ "Salman Rushdie to Teach and Place His Archive at Emory University". Emory University. Retrieved 2007-07-10. 
  4. ^ (5 January 2008). The 50 greatest British writers since 1945. The Times. Retrieved on 2010-02-01.
  5. ^ "Freshnews article". 
  6. ^ "Literary Encyclopedia: Salman Rushdie", Literary Encyclopedia. Retrieved on 20 January 2008
  7. ^ "Salman Rushdie (1947–)", c. 2003, Retrieved on 20 January 2008
  8. ^ "Salman Rushdie biography", 2004, British Counsel. Retrieved 20 January 2008.
  9. ^ "Salman Rushdie sets his sights on the 'Bollywood Jordan'", The Daily Mail, 12 June 2009
  10. ^ As Salman Rushdie steps out with another beautiful woman" 21 July 2008, The Evening Standard
  11. ^ "Rushdie: New book out from under shadow of fatwa", CNN, 15 April 1999. Retrieved on 21 April 2007.
  12. ^ "Readers across the world agree that Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children is the Best of the Booker.". Man Booker Prizes. 2008. Retrieved 2008-07-10. 
  13. ^ Saleem (Sinai) is not Salman (Rushdie)(although he marries a Padma) and Saleem's grandfather Dr Aadam Aziz is not him either, but there is a touching prescience at work here. In the opening pages of Midnight's Children, Dr Aziz while bending down on his prayer mat, bumps his nose on a hard tussock of earth. His nose bleeds and his eyes water and he decides then and there that never again will he bow before God or man. 'This decision, however, made a hole in him, a vacancy in a vital inner chamber, leaving him vulnerable to women and history.' Battered by a fatwa and one femme fatale too many, Sir Salman would have some understanding of this. One more bouquet for Saleem Sinai 20 Jul 2008 by Nina Martyris, TNN. The Times of India
  14. ^ "The 2007 Shortlist". Dublin City Public Libraries/International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. 2007. Retrieved 2007-04-05. 
  15. ^ Rushdie's postcolonial influence
  16. ^ Times of India Story on Rushdie's influence and awards
  17. ^ "Salman Rushdie to Teach and Place His Archive at Emory University". Emory University Office of Media Relations. Retrieved 2006-12-06. 
  18. ^ "Rushdie visits Mumbai for 'Midnight's Children' film". 2010-01-11. Retrieved 2010-03-13. 
  19. ^ SUBHASH K JHA , Jan 13, 2010, 12.00am IST (2010-01-13). "I’m a film buff: Rushdie". Retrieved 2010-03-13. 
  20. ^ "Dreaming of Midnight’s Children". 2010-01-05. Retrieved 2010-03-13. 
  21. ^ "Irrfan moves from Mira Nair to Deepa Mehta". 2010-01-20. Retrieved 2010-03-13. 
  22. ^ "Tête-à-tête with Deepa Mehta". 2010-01-04. Retrieved 2010-03-13. 
  23. ^ See Hitoshi Igarashi, Ettore Capriolo, William Nygaard
  24. ^ a b Anthony Loyd (8 June 2005). "Tomb of the unknown assassin reveals mission to kill Rushdie". The Times. 
  25. ^ "26 December 1990: Iranian leader upholds Rushdie fatwa". BBC News: On This Day. 26 December 1990. Retrieved 2006-10-10. 
  26. ^ Rubin, Michael (1 September 2006). "Can Iran Be Trusted?". The Middle East Forum: Promoting American Interests. Retrieved 2006-10-10. 
  27. ^ a b Webster, Philip, Ben Hoyle and Ramita Navai (20 January 2005). "Ayatollah revives the death fatwa on Salman Rushdie". The Times. Retrieved 2006-10-10. 
  28. ^ "Iran adamant over Rushdie fatwa". BBC News. 12 February 2005. Retrieved 2006-10-10. 
  29. ^ "Rushdie's term". Retrieved 2007-02-15. 
  30. ^ "Cronenberg meets Rushdie". 
  31. ^ "Rushdie anger at policeman's book". BBC. 2 August 2008. Retrieved 4 January 2010. 
  32. ^ "Bodyguard apologises to Rushdie". BBC. 26 August 2008. Retrieved 4 January 2010. 
  33. ^ "Hezbollah: Rushdie death would stop Prophet insults". AFP. 2 February 2006. 
  34. ^ James Phillips (2007-06-20). "Hezbollah’s Terrorist Threat to the European Union – Testimony before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on Europe". 
  35. ^ Joseph Bernard Tamney (2002). The Resilience of Conservative Religion: The Case of Popular, Conservative Protestant Congregations. Cambridge, UK: The Press Syndicate of the University of Cambridge. 
  36. ^ a b c d "International Guerrillas and Criminal Libel". Screenonline. Retrieved 2008-02-07. 
  37. ^ "15 June 2007 Rushdie knighted in honours list". BBC News. 15 June 2007. Retrieved 2007-06-16. 
  38. ^ 'Sir Rubbish: Does Rushdie Deserve a Knighthood', Times Higher Educational Supplement, 20 June 2007
  39. ^ "10 July 2007 Al-Qaeda condemns Rushdie honour". BBC News. 10 July 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-10. 
  40. ^ Rushdie: I was deranged when I embraced Islam | TimesOnline
  41. ^ Muslims unite! A new Reformation will bring your faith into the modern era 11 August 2005
  42. ^ Michael Mandel, How America Gets Away With Murder, Pluto Press, 2004, p60
  43. ^ "Letters, Salman Rushdie: No fondness for the Pentagon's politics | World news". The Guardian. Retrieved 2010-03-13. 
  44. ^ – Dangerous Hypocrisy: World Reactions to the Danish Cartoons
  45. ^ Wagner, Thomas (10 October 2006). "Blair, Rushdie support former British foreign secretary who ignited veil debate". Retrieved 2006-10-10. 
  46. ^ The ageing punk of lit crit still knows how to spit – Times Online
  47. ^ Radio show Medierna broadcast on Sveriges Radio P1 on 31 January 2009.
  48. ^ Salman Rushdie's statement on Amnesty International, The Sunday Times, February 21, 2010

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

I am the sum total of everything that went before me, of all I have been seen done, of everything done-to-me. I am everyone everything whose being-in-the-world affected was affected by mine. I am anything that happens after I've gone which would not have happened if I had not come.
It has been suggested that The Satanic Verses (novel) be merged into this article or section. (Discuss)
It has been suggested that The Satanic Verses controversy be merged into this article or section. (Discuss)

Sir Salman Rushdie (born Ahmed Salman Rushdie, Urdu: أحمد سلمان رشدی, Hindi: अह्मद सलमान रश्डी on 19 June 1947) is an Indian-born British essayist and author of fiction, most of which is set on the Indian subcontinent.



The only people who see the whole picture are the ones who step outside the frame.
Meaning is a shaky edifice we build out of scraps, dogmas, childhood injuries, newspaper articles, chance remarks, old films, small victories, people hated, people loved; perhaps it is because of our sense of what is the case is constructed from such inadequate materials that we defend it so fiercely, even to the death.
  • It’s fun to read things when you don't know all the words. Even children love it. One of the things any great children’s writer will tell you is that children like it if in books designed for their age group there is a vocabulary just slightly bigger than theirs. So they come up against weird words, and the weird words excite them. If you describe a small girl in a story as “loquacious,” it works so much better than “talkative.” And then some little girl will read the book and her sister will be shooting her mouth off and she will say to her sister, “Don't be so loquacious.” It is a whole new weapon in her arsenal.
  • Those who oppose the novel most vociferously today are of the opinion that intermingling with a different culture will inevitably weaken and ruin their own. I am of the opposite opinion. The Satanic Verses celebrates hybridity, impurity, intermingling, the transformation that comes of new and unexpected combinations of human beings, cultures, ideas, politics, movies, songs. It rejoices in mongrelization and fears the absolutism of the Pure. Melange, hotchpotch, a bit of this and a bit of that is how newness enters the world. It is the great possibility that mass migration gives the world… The Satanic Verses is for change-by-fusion, change-by-conjoining. It is a love song to our mongrel selves.
    • Imaginary Homelands (1992)
  • Who what am I? My answer: I am the sum total of everything that went before me, of all I have been seen done, of everything done-to-me. I am everyone everything whose being-in-the-world affected was affected by mine. I am anything that happens after I've gone which would not have happened if I had not come. Nor am I particularly exceptional in this matter; each "I", everyone of the now-six-hundred-million-plus of us, contains a similar multitude. I repeat for the last time: to understand me, you'll have to swallow a world.
    • Midnight's Children (1981)
  • But names, once they are in common use, quickly become mere sounds, their etymology being buried, like so many of the earth's marvels, beneath the dust of habit.
    • The Satanic Verses (1988)
  • The world, somebody wrote, is the place we prove real by dying in it.
    • The Satanic Verses (1988)
  • The idea of the sacred is quite simply one of the most conservative notions in any culture, because it seeks to turn other ideas — uncertainty, progress, change — into crimes.
    • Herbert Reade Memorial Lecture (February 6, 1990)
  • Literature is where I go to explore the highest and lowest places in human society and in the human spirit, where I hope to find not absolute truth but the truth of the tale, of the imagination of the heart.
    • The Hindu (26 February 1995)
  • The only people who see the whole picture are the ones who step outside the frame.
    • The Ground Beneath Her Feet (1999)
  • I've been worrying about God a little bit lately. It seems as if he's been lashing out, you know, destroying cities, annihilating places. It seems like he's been in a bad mood. And I think it has to do with the quality of lovers he's been getting. If you look at the people who love God now, you know, if I was God, I'd need to destroy something.
    • Real Time with Bill Maher TV show (October 7, 2005)
  • It may be argued that the past is a country from which we have all emigrated, that its loss is part of our common humanity. Which seems to be self-evidently true; but I suggest that the writer who is out-of-country and even out-of-language may experience this loss in an intensified form. It is made more concrete for him by the physical fact of discontinuity, of his present being in a different place from his past, of his being 'elsewhere'... human beings do not perceive things whole; we are not gods but wounded creatures, cracked lenses, capably only of fractured perceptions. Partial beings, in all the senses of that phrase. Meaning is a shaky edifice we build out of scraps, dogmas, childhood injuries, newspaper articles, chance remarks, old films, small victories, people hated, people loved; perhaps it is because of our sense of what is the case is constructed from such inadequate materials that we defend it so fiercely, even to the death.
    • "Imaginary Homelands" 1981-1991


  • Orgasmically joyful.
    • When asked how he felt about his upcoming knighthood, from a speech given at Whitman College, Walla Walla, Washington, November, 2007
  • If we allow ourselves to be terrorized by fear of the terrorists, then they have won.
    • In an interview explaining how he managed to maintain a near normal life despite having a fatwa placed upon him.
  • What is my single life worth?
    • From a speech celebrating the 200th anniversary of the First Amendment, New York, December, 1991
  • In regards to that unpleasantness between me and the Ayatollah some years ago... one of us is dead.
    • From an address at the University of Iowa, 2004
    • Ayatollah Khomeini issued a decree ordering the execution of Rushdie after Rushdie wrote a novel which the Ayatollah viewed as blasphemous. See the Wikipedia article on Rushdie for more details.
  • What is freedom of expression? Without the freedom to offend, it ceases to exist.
    • From The Swedish "Censorship" Homepage
  • I don't think there is a need for an entity like God in my life.
    • From an interview with David Frost.
  • I do not envy people who think they have a complete explanation of the world, for the simple reason that they are obviously wrong.
    • From an interview with David Frost (PBS)
  • A writer's home address has little or nothing to do with his ability to write.
  • The ability to be frivolous in a serious time is not to be underestimated.

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File:Salman Rushdie by Kubik
Salman Rushdie in Poland, Warsaw, October 03 2006

Salman Rushdie, (Devanagari : अहमद सलमान रश्दी Nastaliq:سلمان رشدی; born 19 June 1947) known as Mallun Rushdie in Islamic world, is a novelist and essayist and author of Midnight's Children (1981), which won the Booker Prize. Many muslims regard him as an agent of anti-Islamic forces. Rushdie was born in India, but lives in England.

He wrote a book in the year 1988, called The Satanic Verses. Many Muslims see the book as blasphemous against Islam. It included prophet Muhammad as a character and mentioned the Satanic verses in a way that can easily be understood as criticism of Muhammad. Many countries banned this book because they argued it tried to spread hatred about all Muslims in general and Prophet in particular.

The leader of the country of Iran talked on the radio about Rushdie. He said that Rushdie did not believe in Islam and that Rushdie should be executed for spreading the wrong and false word about Prophet Muhammad through this book. This is called a fatwa. In the year 1989, the British government began protecting Rushdie. In 1990, Rushdie wrote an essay, in which he tried to prove that he was a muslim. But many sources still say he is an atheist.

He has been married four times. His last marriage was to actress and model Padma Lakshmi; they divorced in 2007.


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