Salman Rushdie turns 75: All you need to know about the acclaimed author

Sir Salman Rushdie is an Indian-born writer known for his allegorical novels, including Midnight's Children and The Satanic Verses, which led to a fatwa against him. Despite the danger, he continued to write and publish many more novels, essays, and children's books.

Edited By Fareha Naaz
First Published19 Jun 2023
Commemorating Salman Rushdie's literary journey of controversies and triumphs
Commemorating Salman Rushdie’s literary journey of controversies and triumphs

Sir Ahmed Salman Rushdie, born on June 19 , 1947, in Mumbai, India, is an acclaimed Indian-born writer known for his allegorical novels that delve into historical and philosophical themes through surreal characters, brooding humour, and an effusive and melodramatic prose style. However, his exploration of sensitive religious and political subjects has made him a controversial figure.

Early life and education

Rushdie's father was a prosperous Muslim businessman, and he received his education at Rugby School and the University of Cambridge, where he earned an M.A. degree in history in 1968. Afterward, he worked as an advertising copywriter in London throughout most of the 1970s. In 1975, he published his first novel, "Grimus." However, it was his second novel, "Midnight's Children" (1981), a fable about modern India, that brought him unexpected critical acclaim and international recognition. He also drafted the screenplay for the film adaptation, released in 2012.

Also read: Why Salman Rushdie was forced to live on the run for years?

Literary beginnings and breakthrough

Following the success of "Midnight's Children," Rushdie's third novel, "Shame" (1983), which explored contemporary politics in Pakistan, also gained popularity. 

Controversy and conflict

However, his fourth novel, "The Satanic Verses," faced a different fate. The book featured adventures involving a character inspired by the Prophet Muhammad, portraying him and his interpretation of the Qur'an in a manner that drew criticism from Muslim community leaders in Britain after its publication in 1988. They denounced the novel as blasphemous, leading to public demonstrations that spread to Pakistan in early 1989. On February 14, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the spiritual leader of Iran, publicly condemned the book and issued a fatwa against Rushdie, offering a bounty for his execution. Faced with this threat, Rushdie went into hiding under the protection of Scotland Yard, severely restricting his movements.

Continued writing and resilience

Despite the constant danger, Rushdie continued to write. He released "Imaginary Homelands" (1991), a collection of essays and criticism, followed by the children's novel "Haroun and the Sea of Stories" (1990) and the short-story collection "East, West" (1994). In 1995, he published the novel "The Moor's Last Sigh." After nearly a decade, the Iranian government announced in 1998 that it would no longer seek to enforce the fatwa against Rushdie. He chronicled his experiences in the third-person memoir "Joseph Anton" (2012), where he revealed the alias he adopted during his seclusion.

Returning to public life, Rushdie published several more novels, including "The Ground Beneath Her Feet" (1999) and "Fury" (2001). He also released a collection of essays titled "Step Across This Line" (2002), covering topics ranging from the September 11 attacks to "The Wizard of Oz." His subsequent novels include "Shalimar the Clown" (2005), exploring terrorism primarily in the Kashmir region, and "The Enchantress of Florence" (2008), featuring a fictionalized account of Mughal emperor Akbar.

Rushdie's literary endeavours extended to children's literature as well. "Luka and the Fire of Life" (2010) followed the adventures of Luka, the younger brother of the protagonist from "Haroun and the Sea of Stories," as he embarked on a quest to revive his ailing father. In "Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights" (2015), Rushdie weaved a tapestry of interconnected stories rooted in Arabic mythology, celebrating the power of human.

(With inputs from Encyclopedia Britannica)

Also read: All you need to know about Salman Rushdie's life and works


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