It was in 1989 that Salman Rushdie‘s novel “The Satanic Verses,” denounced by Muslims as blasphemy against the prophet Muhammad, ignited a firestorm. The book was banned and violent protests took place in the Islamic world.
Bookstores in Britain that carried it were bombed. The book’s Japanese translator was killed. Its Norwegian publisher attacked. Ayatollah Khomeini, the spiritual leader of Iran’s Islamic republic, issued a decree, or “fatwa,” calling for Rushdie’s death.
Rushdie went into hiding for nearly a decade before the fatwa was lifted in 1998. He’s lived in New York since 2000.
Now, he’s written a memoir of those years titled “Joseph Anton: A Memoir” — the code name he used based on two favorite authors: Joseph Conrad and Anton Chekhov.
Earlier today, I spoke to Rushdie about his book, his career as a writer and about the recent unrest in the Middle East and Northern Africa that stemmed from an anti-Muslim film. We’ll post Monday’s NewsHour segment here later this evening. In the meantime, here’s our extended conversation:
Editor’s note: More about Rushdie and his memoir can be found at Emory University’s website. In 2006, after being named named distinguished writer in residence, Rushdie placed his archive — 40 years of his literary life — at Emory University’s Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library.
“Memory is a way of telling you what’s important to you,” Rushdie told the university earlier this year. “Yes, this archive is nostalgic for me, and in the specific case of the memoir I was going back to try to create, it was essential. Had it not been done here, I would not have been able to do it.”