The Satanic Verses
“The more I look back on it, the more I think the opposite of that. I mean, I actually think it’s pretty mild, 'The Satanic Verses.' For a start, most of it isn’t about Islam at all, you know, most of it is a rather sympathetic portrait of Indian immigrants coming to live in England and that bit of it that is to do with Islamic themes goes to enormous trouble to distance itself from Islam. There’s a prophet not called Mohammed living in a city not called Mecca, inventing a religion not called Islam.” Salman Rushdie
Indian-born novelist Salman Rushdie was shot to fame in the early 1980s thanks largely to “Midnight's Children” (1981), a novel about the birth of modern day India. It won the 1981 Man Booker Prize Award and the 1993 Booker of Bookers Award. “Midnight's Children” was his book after the unsuccessful “Grimus” (1975). Rushdie is probably most-associated as the writer of the controversial “The Satanic Verses” (1988, won the Whitbread Award). Criticized by angry Muslim leaders as sacrilegious, the novel led Iran leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to sentence Rushdie to death in 1989. Rushdie lived in hiding after the decree and did not make many public appearances until the late 1990s, when the order was officially canceled. Other novels Rushdie has written include “The Moor's Last Sigh” (1995), “The Ground Beneath Her Feet” (1999), “Fury” (2002), “Shalimar the Clown” (2005) and “The Enchantress of Florence” (2008).
The celebrated novelist has amassed many awards. They include the Writers' Guild of Great Britain for Children's Fiction, Italy's Premio Grinzane Cavour, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, the Arts Council Writers' Award and the European Union's Aristeion Prize. Rushdie was handed the Author of the Year Awards from Germany and the British Book Awards and an India Abroad Lifetime Achievement Award from the United States. He also earned an Outstanding Lifetime Achievement in Cultural Humanism Award from Harvard University.
A naturalized citizen of the U.K. since 1964, Rushdie was named a Knight Bachelor on June 16, 2007, for his contribution to literature. Commenting on his knighthood, he stated, “I am thrilled and humbled to receive this great honor and am very grateful that my work has been recognized in this way.”
Rushdie's knighthood received protests from many nations, including Pakistan and Malaysia.
On a more personal note, Rushdie is a four-time divorcee. He has two sons, Zafar (mother: first wife Clarissa Luard) and Milan (mother: third wife Elizabeth West).
Childhood and Family:
Ahmed Salman Rushdie was born on June 19, 1947, in Mumbai (formerly called Bombay), India, to a middle-class Muslim family. The only son of Anis Ahmed Rushdie, a Cambridge University educated businessman, and Negin Butt, an educator, he studied at the Cathedral and John Connon School in Mumbai and was sent to England in the mid-1960s when there was war between India and Pakistan. At the time, his family relocated to Pakistan. Rushdie attended Rugby School in Warwickshire, England, and furthered his studies at King's College, in Cambridge. He graduated with honors in 1968 and spent time in Pakistan, where he worked in television. Upon returning to England, he worked as an actor and in advertising before gaining success as a writer.
Rushdie has been married four times. He was married to first wife Clarissa Luard from 1976 to 1987. They have a son named Zafar. He then married American novelist Marianne Wiggins on January 28, 1988, but the marriage ended on March 2, 1993. Rushdie's third wife was Elizabeth West, to whom he was married from August 28, 1997, to 2004 and with whom he has a son, Milan. On April 17, 2004, he married Indian actress and model Padma Lakshmi. The couple divorced in July 2007.
Although he was raised in a Muslim household, Rushdie no longer regards himself Muslim.
After graduating from King's College in England, Indian-born Salman Rushdie briefly worked in television in Pakistan and went on to become an actor in a theater group at the Oval House in Kennington. In 1971, he worked as a freelance advertising copywriter for Ogilvy and Mather and Charles Barker in London and would hold his job for the next ten years until he achieved success as a novelist.
Rushdie released his first novel, “Grimus,” in 1975. An exercise in fantastical science fiction, the book received a cold response from literary critics and the public. In 1981, he won the Man Booker Prize for Fiction for his sophomore effort, “Midnight's Children,” a comic parable of Indian history. Penned in a highly-spirited style, the book brought Rushdie instant prominence. In 1993, twelve years after its release, it was awarded the Booker of Bookers, the best novel among the Booker Prize winners for Fiction.
Following the success of “Midnight's Children,” Rushdie quit his advertising job to become a full-time writer. In 1983, he resurfaced with “Shame,” which describes the political disturbance in Pakistan. With Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq as the base for his characters, “Shame” netted France's Prix du Meilleur Livre Étranger (Best Foreign Book) and was nominated for the Booker Prize Award.
“The Jaguar Smile: A Nicaraguan Journey” followed it 1987. It was written after Rushdie visited Nicaragua. However, it was his next novel that put Rushdie in the center of attention. “The Satanic Verses,” released in 1988, won the Whitbread Award later that same year and received a great deal of protest from Muslims around the world. Also in 1989, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, then the Supreme Leader of Iran, issued a fatwa (death sentence) against Rushdie. To calm his critics and issue an apology, Rushdie published an essay titled “In Good Faith” in 1990 where he reconfirmed his regard for Islam. However, it did not work and Rushdie spent nearly a decade primarily underground hiding from assassins. He appeared in public only periodically.
During his years in hiding, Rushdie continued to write and publish books. Among them were “Haroun and the Sea of Stories” (1990), which was written for children, “Imaginary Homelands: Essays and Criticism” (1992), “Homeless by Choice” (1992) and “The Moor's Last Sigh” (1995), a family epic of India's history.
In 1999, Rushdie published “The Ground Beneath Her Feet,” in which he depicts an alternative history of modern rock music, and after the official cancellation of the death decree in the late 1990s, he began to make appearances in movies. Usually playing himself in cameos, Rushdie's credits include “Bridget Jones' Diary” (2001), “The Rutles 2: Can't Buy Me Lunch” (2002, TV), and “Then She Found Me” (2008), a directorial debut from actress Helen Hunt. He also took part in the PBS miniseries “Bill Moyers on Faith and Reason” (2006).
Still an active novelist, the author released “Fury” in 2001. The book tells the story of an ex-Cambridge professor, Malik Solanka, who attempts to begin a new life in New York. “Step Across This Line,” a collection of essays, hit the stores the following year. Salman has since published three more books: “Shalimar the Clown” (2005), “The Enchantress of Florence” (2008) and “Best American Short Stories 2008” (2008, as the editor).
Aristeion Prize (European Union)
Arts Council Writers' Award
Author of the Year (British Book Awards)
Author of the Year (Germany)
Booker of Bookers or the best novel among the Booker Prize winners for Fiction
English-Speaking Union Award
Hutch Crossword Fiction Prize (India)
India Abroad Lifetime Achievement Award (USA)
James Tait Black Memorial Prize (Fiction)
Kurt Tucholsky Prize (Sweden)
Mantua Prize (Italy)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Honorary Professorship
Chapman University Honorary Doctorate - Doctor of Humane Letters
Outstanding Lifetime Achievement in Cultural Humanism (Harvard University)
Premio Grinzane Cavour (Italy)
Prix Colette (Switzerland)
Prix du Meilleur Livre Etranger
State Prize for Literature (Austria)
Whitbread Novel Award: (twice)
Writers' Guild of Great Britain: Children's Fiction
The Man Booker Prize: Fiction, “Midnight's Children,” 1981