Rushdie, Sir Salman

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Rushdie, Sir Salman

Sir Salman Rushdie (sälmän´ rōōsh´dē), 1947–, British novelist, b. Bombay (now Mumbai, India). He is known for the allusive richness of his language and the wide variety of Eastern and Western characters and cultures he explores. His first novels, including Midnight's Children (1981; Booker Prize; adapted for the stage by Rushdie, 2003) and Shame (1983), incorporate the technique of magic realism; elements of this approach can also be found in his later fiction. Parts of his allegorical novel The Satanic Verses (1988) were deemed sacrilegious and enraged many Muslims, including Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini, who in 1989 issued a fatwa sentencing Rushdie to death. Violence occurred in some cities where the book was sold, and Rushdie went into hiding. From his seclusion he wrote Haroun and the Sea of Stories (1990), a novelistic allegory against censorship; East, West (1995), a book of short stories; and The Moor's Last Sigh (1995), a novel that examines India's recent history through the life of a Jewish-Christian family. The Iranian government ended its support for the fatwa in 1998, but since 2004 a state-linked Iranian religious foundation has offered a bounty for Rushdie's murder. Rushdie's first post-fatwa novel, The Ground beneath Her Feet (1999), mingles myth and reality in a surreal world of rock music celebrity. Since then he has also written the novels Fury (2001), Shalimar the Clown (2005), and The Enchantress of Florence (2008), a romantic fantasy of 16th-century East and West, chiefly tales of Mughal India and Renaissance Italy. Luka and the Fire of Life (2010), a magical 21st-century myth, is a sequel to Haroun. Rushdie's work also includes numerous essays, many of which are in Step across This Line: Collected Nonfiction 1992–2002 (2002). He was knighted in 2008, provoking condemnation from some Muslims.

See Joseph Anton (2012), a memoir that chronicles his years in hiding; M. Reder, ed., Conversations with Salman Rushdie (2000) and P. S. Chauhan, ed., Salman Rushdie Interviews (2001); studies by T. Brennan (1989), J. Harrison (1992), C. Cundy (1996), M. K. Booker, ed. (1999), R. Y. Clark (2001), H. Bloom, ed. (2003), P. Chowdhury (2007), and S. Morton (2008).

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