Biography of Salman Rushdie: Sir Ahmed Salman Rushdie is an Indian born British-American novelist. Rushdie’s works often blends historical fiction with magic realism. The themes he primarily deals with are disruptions, migrations, and connections between Eastern and Western civilization, typically set on Indian subcontinent. In 2008, The Times ranked him 13th on its list of the 50 greatest British writers since year 1945. Midnight’s Children, his second novel won the Booker Prize in 1981. Let’s read more about the life and career of Salman Rushdie.

Early and Personal Life of Salman Rushdie

Salman Rushdie was born on June 19, 1947, in Bombay into a Kashmiri Muslim family. He is the son of Anis Ahmed Rushdie and Negin Bhatt. Rushdie has three sisters. In his 2012 memoir, Rushdie wrote that his father adopted “Rushdie” in honor of Averroes. He was educated at the Cathedral and John Connon School in Fort, South Bombay, before moving to England. Rushdie attended Rugby School in Rugby, Warwickshire, and then King’s College, Cambridge. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history.

Biography of Salman Rushdie | Life and Career
Biography of Salman Rushdie | Life and Career

He has married and divorced four times. Rushdie was married to the literature officer of the Arts Council England, Clarissa Luard from 1976 to 1987. They had a son born in 1979. He left Clarissa for Australian writer Robyn Davidson. Robyn and Rushdie never got married and split up by the time Rushdie and Clarissa got divorced. His second wife was American novelist Marianne Wiggins. The couple got married in 1988 and divorced in 1993. He was with his third wife, British editor and author Elizabeth West from 1997 to 2004. They had a son together in 1997. Shortly after her divorce in 2004, he married Indian actress Padma Lakshmi. They filed a divorce file in 2007.

In 1999, he had an operation to correct ptosis. It made it difficult for him to open his eyes. Due to this eye problem his upper eyelids were drooping. Since 2000, he has lived near Union Square in Lower Manhattan, New York City.

Literary Works

Rushdie’s first novel Grimus, (1975) is a part sci-fi tale. His next novel Midnight’s Children (1981) catapulted him to literary fame and won him a Booker Prize. In his next novel Shame (1983) he talks about the emotional disorder in Pakistan. His works of postcolonial literature are characterized by magic realism. Rushdie is very conscious of the immigrant outlook as a member of the Kashmiri Diaspora. In 1987 he wrote a non-fiction book The Jaguar Smile about Nicaragua. The Satanic Verse (1988) is his most controversial work. In 1990 he published Haroun and the Sea of Stories. His other works are Luka and the Fire of Life (2010), Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights (2015), The Golden House 2017), Languages of Truth (2021), and more. Some of Salman Rushdie’s early influences are James Joyce, Lewis Carroll, Jorge Luis Borges, Günter Grass, and Mikhail Bulgakov.

Film and Television

Even though Rushdie enjoys writing the most, he says he would have been an actor if her literary career had not been successful. From his early childhood, he dreamed of becoming a Hollywood actor. He had a cameo in the popular Bridget Jones’s Diary. In 2006 he was a guest host on The Charlie Rose Show where he interviewed Canadian filmmaker Deepa Mehta. He played the role of Helen obstetrician-gynecologist in the film adaptation of Elinor Lipman’s novel Then She Found Me. In 2008 and 2009 he appeared as a panelist on Real Time with Bill Maher. He collaborated with Deepa Mehta for the screenplay of the film adaptation of Midnight’s Children. Some of the actors who participated in the film include Shabana Azmi, Irrfan Khan, Seema Biswas, and Nandita Das. In 2017, he appeared as himself in season 3 episode 9 of Curb Your Enthusiasm.

Biography of Salman Rushdie | Life and Career
Biography of Salman Rushdie | Life and Career

Attacks on Salman Rushdie

Rushdie’s controversial work The Satanic Verse caused a huge deal of controversy in the Islamic world. By some, the text was a mocking depiction of Muhammad. On 14 February 1989, a rule of the fatwa was released ordering the writer’s execution. It was proclaimed on Radio Tehran by Ayatollah Khomeini, the then-supreme leader of Iran. He addressed the book as “blasphemous against Islam”. The publication of the book and fatwa sparked violence across the world. Muslim communities held public rallies, burning copies of the work. People associated with translating or publishing the book were attacked, injured, and even killed.

Rushdie was attacked a few times by the media, magazines, and even physically. Recently on August 12, 2022, while Rushdie was about to commence a lecture at the Chautauqua Institution, Chautauqua, NY, the author was attacked again. A man rushed onto the stage and stabbed him repeatedly including his abdomen and neck. Later in the day, his agent Andrew Wylie confirmed that he had received stab injuries to the hand and liver and that he might lose an eye. On October 23, 2022, Wylie reported that Salman Rushdie had lost the use of one hand and sight in one eye but survived the murder attempt.

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