New York: British author Salman Rushdie and his wife Padma Lakshmi, host of the TV show “Top Chef,” are getting divorced, the couple announced on 2 July, just two weeks after he was awarded a controversial knighthood.
Rushdie, 60, is best known for his novel The Satanic Verses, which outraged many Muslims and prompted death threats that forced him to live in hiding for nine years.
He married Lakshmi, 36, a former model born in India, in 2004. She was his fourth wife and the couple had no children.
“Salman Rushdie has agreed to divorce his wife, Padma Lakshmi, because of her desire to end their marriage,” said spokeswoman Jin Auh in a statement on his behalf. “He asks that the media respect his privacy at this difficult time.”
Lakshmi’s publicist issued a similar statement that added, “After an 8-year relationship including over three years of marriage, Lakshmi regrets that their mutual efforts failed to make the marriage work.”
Rushdie hit the headlines two weeks ago when he was selected for knighthood by Britain’s Queen Elizabeth, again angering some Muslims in Iran and Pakistan.
When the Indian-born Rushdie started his romance with the model more than 20 years his junior, the British tabloids made much of their differences in age and intellectual stature.
But Rushdie always defended his wife.
“It feels very odd to see newspaper articles saying ‘Beauty and the Beast’ and ‘Why Do Beautiful Women Love Ugly Men?’” he told The Times of London in 2005. “But at this stage, I’m kind of resigned to it.”
Rushdie shot to fame in 1981 when his second novel, Midnight’s Children, a magic-realist exploration of Indian history, won the Booker Prize.
The late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Iran’s supreme religious leader, pronounced a fatwa, or religious edict, in 1989 that called on Muslims to kill Rushdie because of perceived blasphemy in his fourth novel, The Satanic Verses.
Lakshmi started her career as a model and has since acted in movies and television shows and written cookbooks. She hosts the US cooking show “Top Chef” on the Bravo cable network.