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Portraits: Salman Rushdie
Martin Amis Margaret Atwood Mary Gordon Colin McGinn David Grossman Anne Provoost
Martin Amis Margaret Atwood Mary Gordon Colin McGinn David Grossman Anne Provoost
Richard Rodriguez Salman Rushdie Will Power Pema Chödrön Sir John Houghton Jeanette Winterson
Richard Rodriguez Salman Rushdie Will Power Pema Chödrön Sir John Houghton Jeanette Winterson

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Salman Rushdie reads from SHALIMAR THE CLOWN and the PEN Festival — and talks about his new novel of love, faith and politics. Plus, watch the interview, Part I and interview, Part II online.

"I do think that (9/11) was a hinge moment. And if only because it showed us that we're now inescapably involved with each other. That we can't disengage."
--Salman Rushdie

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Salman Rushdie is a celebrated novelist, short-story writer, and essayist who gained international notoriety in 1989 when Iranian leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini demanded his execution for his portrayal of the prophet Mohammed in the novel THE SATANIC VERSES.

Born into a Muslim family in Bombay, India, in 1947, Rushdie began his writing career in the mid-1970s, after settling in England. His second novel, MIDNIGHT'S CHILDREN, an allegory of post-independence Indian society, catapulted him to fame in 1981 and was awarded Britain's Booker Prize for best novel. In 1993, the novel was named the "Booker of Bookers," as the best novel to receive the award in the prize's 25-year history.

Rushdie followed MIDNIGHT'S CHILDREN with a string of seven highly acclaimed novels, among them THE SATANIC VERSES (1988), THE MOOR'S LAST SIGH (1995) and THE GROUND BENEATH HER FEET (1999). Most of the author's novels are set on the Indian subcontinent and focus on actual political and historical events interwoven with myth, fantasy, and folklore - a technique that has drawn comparisons to the "magic realism" of South American writers like Jorge Luis Borges and Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

The publication of THE SATANIC VERSES in 1988 ignited a firestorm across the Muslim world for its depiction of the prophet Mohammed. The book was banned in more than a dozen countries, and Iran's Khomeini issued a fatwa calling for the assassination of everyone involved in its publication. Within a few years, the book's Japanese translator had been stabbed to death, its Italian translator had been stabbed, and its Norwegian publisher had been shot.

Though the fatwa has never been rescinded, Rushdie continues to publish and make occasional public appearances. His books have been translated into more than 40 languages. He divides his time between London and New York.

Rushdie has received numerous honors for his writing, including the Whitbread Prize for best novel (twice), the Writers' Guild Award, the European Union's Aristeion Prize for Literature, the Crossword Book Award in India (the "Indian Booker Prize"), and the London International Writers' Award. He holds the rank of Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres (France's highest artistic honor), is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, and from 2004 to 2006 served as the president of the PEN American Center.

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  • Watch the interview, Part I and interview, Part II online or read the transcript

    listen Salman Rushdie on free expression and poet Czeslaw Milosz at the PEN Festival (8:39 mp3)

    listenMore from the PEN World Voices Festival Archive


  • Find out more
  • About Kashmir and the cartoon controversy — matters under discussion in the interview

  • About faith & politics

  • About freedom & tolerance

  • About political satire

  • FAITH & REASON booklist


  • Resources
  • NEW YORK TIMES Featured Author: Salman Rushdie

  • "What this cultural debate needs is more dirt, less pure stupidity," Salman Rushdie in the TIMES OF LONDON

  • "The Iconoclast," Salman Rushdie interviewed in REASON


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