Salman Rushdie is one of those authors who seems to inspire extreme emotions in his readers—you either love him or you hate him. With a long list of notable awards to his name, an interesting origin story, and an at-times contentious career, Salman Rushdie has definitely left a lasting mark on contemporary literature. Here are 5 fascinating facts you might not know about the famous British-American author.
1. He wrote one of the most controversial novels ever
If you aren't familiar with the controversy surrounding his novel The Satanic Verses, let me fill you in. Rushdie's fourth novel features dream sequences in which the Prophet Muhammad interprets a message from Satan as coming from God (among other things).
Many Muslims found this to be blasphemous and concluded that Rushdie was hinting at Mohammad being a false prophet. In 1989, Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran issued a fatwa against Rushdie ordering his death.
2. He went into hiding for 10 years
The aftershock of The Satanic Verses resulted in some very serious events. Not only were Rushdie's translators attacked (one was even killed), but bookstores were bombed, and death threats were issued because of the book.
Rushdie no longer felt safe in public. He ended up going into hiding and kept his location a secret for nearly 10 years. Even now, the author is understandably wary as, he says, he receives an annual reminder from the Iranian government of their plans to execute him.
3. Rushdie was raised a Muslim
You wouldn't think that someone who wrote such a controversial piece of work would have grown up with the very religion he seemed to satirize, but this is actually the case for Rushdie. He was born in Mumbai, India to Muslim parents and the religion formed a part of his childhood.
Although Rushdie did ultimately declare himself an atheist, he experienced a 'change of heart' in 1990 and claimed he was returning to Islam. However, the author later admitted that this was only an attempt to appease those who wished to execute him and not a genuine conversion.
4. Despite the drama, he never stopped writing
Death threats would probably put the breaks on most author's writing careers—at least for a while—but Rushdie remains as prolific a writer as ever in the years following the declaration of the fatwa. He's written roughly ten hefty books since then, not to mention adapting Midnight's Children for the stage and penning a few children's books too!
5. Rushdie has yet to win the Nobel Prize for Literature
While he is a winner of a few other notable literary prizes (he won the Man Booker Prize in 1981 for Midnight's Children), he has yet to be a Nobel Prize winner. This might be because of the cloud of controversy which follows the author everywhere—not only due to The Satanic Verses, but because he's led a rather tumultuous personal life as well.
It was only in 2016 that the Nobel committee finally issued a statement condemning the death threats against Rushdie, 27 years after the fatwa had been issued. Who knows, maybe this means a Nobel Prize is finally in the works for the 74-year-old author!
Have you read Salman Rushdie's work?
Do you love or hate it?
Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!