The author Salman Rushdie, who had a $3 million bounty on his head for his 1988 book “The Satanic Verses,” was stabbed in the neck by an unidentified assailant on Friday.
The Chautauqua Institution is located in Upstate New York, about 75 miles south of Buffalo, and was where the Indian-born author, 75, was scheduled to speak before he was stabbed by a lone attacker shortly after 11 a.m.
However, since the late 1980s, when Rushdie published “The Satanic Verses,” a controversial fantasy novel that some Muslims considered to be blasphemous because of its references to Islam, he has received death threats.
Who Issued the Fatwa to Kill Rushdie?
That marked a radical shift from 1988 when he first published his novel “The Satanic Verses.” Due to the fictionalization of the Prophet Muhammad’s life, some Muslims found it blasphemous, and the following year, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the supreme leader of Iran, issued a fatwa ordering Muslims to kill Rushdie.
About ten years after the fatwa was issued, Rushdie made his home in London. His then-wife, the novelist Marianne Wiggins, claimed they moved 56 times in the first three months. That works out to about once every three days. Due to the stresses of their relationship, the couple eventually broke up.
After that, Rushdie stayed in a safe house with a security gate and a porch with double doors, largely under the protection of the British police. The home had bombproof net curtains, a safe room for six police officers, and bulletproof windows and doors.
Is Salman Rushdie Still in Hiding?
As early as 2006, six years after the fatwa, Rushdie was making public appearances again. He made his first public appearance, at a London panel discussion titled “Writers and the State,” in September 1995.
Rushdie, who was clearly enjoying himself, smiled and said, “The term ‘coming out’ has gone through some unusual metamorphoses.” “Thank you for attending this little coming-out party.”
Rushdie had armed guards with him at all times back then. “He travels, eats in restaurants, appears at bookstores, and is a regular fixture at London’s smartest literary parties,” Sarah Lyall of The New York Times reported.
To promote their 2000 song “The Ground Beneath Her Feet,” U2 cast Rushdie as a writer in a music video cameo. Rushdie appeared in character as himself in a scene set at a book party in the 2001 film “Bridget Jones’s Diary,” poking fun at his image as an intimidating intellectual.
Friends say Salman Rushdie has been living openly in New York without apparent security in recent years, despite his high profile as an author and advocate for free speech has made him a target in the 1990s and forced him into hiding for several years.
Last year, Rushdie, then 75, gave an interview from his Manhattan home with the air of a man who had long since reentered society and delighted in being a man about town. He spoke at length about literature. When confronted with the persistent demands for his demise, he responded, “Oh, I have to live my life.”
According to Rushdie, “if we’d reached the point where we can make fun of it, then that feels good.”
The president and CEO of PEN America, Suzanne Nossel, has stated that Rushdie has participated in numerous events with PEN in recent years and that no special security measures have been taken by the organization.
“There was a feeling that the threat had lifted and he was able to focus on the threats facing others, standing up for others facing peril,” Nossel said.
One of Rushdie’s friends is the novelist, playwright, and current president of PEN America Ayad Akhtar. He claimed that he had never seen Rushdie bring any sort of security detail to public events or venues and that the two had never discussed the threats Rushdie faced.
Akhtar has said that “The Satanic Verses” was a watershed moment in his own development as a young Muslim writer because Rushdie’s early work questioned the founding myths of India and Pakistan and eventually Islam.
“Playing that role as a writer,” Akhtar said, “as a questioning conscience for all of us who came from the subcontinent or were born into the faith, it was a singular act of creativity, courage, and brilliance.”
What Are Some of His Accomplishments?
The publication of “Midnight’s Children,” which won the Booker Prize in 1981, catapulted Rushdie to prominence, and since then he has written more than a dozen additional books. Rushdie has written four non-fiction books, including a memoir and a collection of essays, and many of his novels deal with magical or surrealist themes.
His 2019 novel, “Quichotte,” follows a television salesman who develops romantic feelings for a celebrity he sees on screen. A new novel, “Victory City,” is scheduled for publication by him in 2023.
Rushdie has won multiple awards and accolades for his work over the years. These include the Whitbread Prize for Best Novel (which he has won twice) and the James Tait Black Prize.
Honorary faculty positions in the Humanities at MIT and six other universities in Europe and the United States are among his many accolades.
Who is He Currently Married to?
The 75-year-old, who has been married four times, has gained a reputation while hiding as a ladies’ man who dates young women; he even made an appearance on an episode of Larry David’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm” about women who want to have “fatwa sex” with him.
While promoting her memoir “Love, Loss, and What We Ate,” published in 2016, Lakshmi gave an interview to People in which she discussed her marriage to Rushdie. I mean, he was the greatest blessing in my life. It was hard to believe that someone of his stature and caliber would want to spend his lunch hour with me.