Salman Rushdie (1947-)

Anglo-Indian novelist, who uses in his works tales from various genres - fantasy, mythology, religion, oral tradition. Rushdie's narrative technique has connected his books to magic realism, which includes such English-language authors as Peter Carey, Angela Carter, E.L. Doctorow, John Fowles, Mark Helprin or Emma Tennant. Salman Rushdie was condemned to death by the former Iranian spiritual leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini on February 14, 1989, after publishing SATANIC VERSES. Naguib Mahfouz, the winner of the 1988 Nobel Prize in Literature, criticized Khomeini for 'intellectual terrorism' but changed his view later and said that Rushdie did not have 'the right to insult anything, especially a prophet or anything considered holy.' The Nobel writer V.S. Naipaul described Khomeini's fatwa as "an extreme form of literary criticism."

"Insults are mysteries. What seems to the bystander to be the cruelest, most destructive sledgehammer of an assault, whore! slut! tart!, can leave its target undamaged, while an apparently lesser gibe, thank god you're not my child, can fatally penetrate the finest suits of armour, you're nothing to me, you're less than the dirt on the soles of my shoes, and strike directly at the heart." (from The Ground Beneath Her Feet, 1999)
Salman Rushdie was born in Bombay, India, to a middle-class Moslem family. His paternal grandfather was an Urdu poet, and his father a Cambridge-educated businessman. At the age of fourteen Rushdie was sent to Rugby School in England. In 1964 Rushdie's parents moved to Karachi, Pakistan, joining reluctantly the Muslim exodus - during these years there was a war between India and Pakistan, and the choosing of sides and divided loyalties burdened Rushdie heavily.
Rushdie continued his studies at King's College, Cambridge, where he read history. After graduating in 1968 he worked for a time in television in Pakistan. He was an actor in a theatre group at the Oval House in Kennington and from 1971 to 1981 he worked intermittently as a freelance advertising copywriter for Ogilvy and Mather and Charles Barker.
As a novelist Rushdie made his debut with GRIMUS in 1975, an exercise in fantastical science fiction, which draws on the 12th-century Sufi poem The Conference of Birds. The title of the novel is an anagram of the name 'Simurg', the immense, all-wise, fabled bird of pre-Islamic Persian mythology. Rushdie's the next novel, MIDNIGHT'S CHILDREN (1981), won the Booker Prize and brought him international fame. Written in exuberant style, the comic allegory of Indian history revolves around the lives of the narrator Saleem Sinai and the 1000 children born after the Declaration of Independence. All of the children are given some magical property. Saleem has a very large nose, which grants him the ability to see "into the hearts and minds of men." His chief rival is Shiva, who has the power of war. Saleem, dying in a pickle factory near Bombay, tells his tragic story with special interest in its comical aspects. The work aroused a great deal of controversy in India because of its unflattering portrait of Indira Gandhi and her son Sanjay, who was involved in a controversial sterilization campaign. Midnight's Children took its title from Nehru's speech delivered at the stroke of midnight, 14 August 1947, as India gained its independence from England.
SHAME (1983) centered on a well-to-do Pakistani family, using the family history as a metaphor for the country. The story included two thinly veiled historical characters - Iskander Harappa, a playboy turned politician, modeled on the former Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, and General Raza Hyder, Iskander's associate and later his executioner. HAROUN AND THE SEA OF STORIES (1990) was written for children, and wove into the story an affable robot, genies, talking fish, dark illains, and an Arabian princess in need of saving. LUCA AND THE FIRE OF LIFE (2010), the sequel, told about the younger brother of Haroun, who enters into adventures in the World of Magic.
Rushdie won in 1988 the Whitbread Award with his fourth novel, The Satanic Verses. The story opens spectacularly. Gibreel Farishta and Saladin Chamcha, two Indian actors, fall to earth after an Air India jumbo jet explodes 30,000 feet above the English Channel. This refers to a real act of terrorism, when an Air India Boeing 747 was blown up in 1985 - supposedly by Sikh terrorist. Gibreel Farishta in Urdu, means Gabriel Angel, which makes him the archangel whom Islamic tradition regards as "bringing down" the Qur'an from God to Muhammad. "'To be born again,' sang Gibreel Farishta tumbling from the heavens, 'first you have to die. Ho ji! To land upon the bosomy earth, first one needs to fly. Tat-taa! Taka-thun! How to ever smile again, if first you won't cry? How to win the darling's love, mister, without a sigh? Baba, if you want to get born again...' Just before dawn one winter's morning, New Year's Day or thereabouts, two real, full-grown, living men fell from a great height, twenty-nine thousand and two feet, towards the English Channel, without benefit of parachutes or wings, out of a clear sky." (from The Satanic Verses) Gibreel Farishta and Saladin are miraculously saved, and chosen as protagonist in the fight between Good and Evil. In the following cycle of bizarre adventures, dreams, and tales of past and future, the reader meets Mahound, the Prophet of Jahilia, the recipient of a revelation in which satanic verses mingle with divine. "'I told you a long time back,' Gibreel Farishta quietly said, 'that if I thought the sickness would never leave me, that it would always return, I would not be able to bear up to it.' Then, very quickly, before Salahuddin could move a finger, Gobreel put the barrel of the gun into his own mouth; and pulled the trigger; and was free." The character modelled on the Prophet Muhammad and his transcription of the Quran is portrayed in an unconventional light. The quotations from the Quran are composites of the English version of N.J. Dawood and of Maulana Muhammad Ali, with a few touches of Rushdie's own.
The novel was banned in India and South Africa and burned on the streets of Bradford, Yorkshire. When Ayatollah Khomeini called on all zealous Muslims to execute the writer and the publishers of the book, Rushdie was forced into hiding. Also an aide to Khomeini offered a million-dollar reward for Rushdie's death. In 1993 Rushdie's Norwegian publisher William Nygaard was wounded in an attack outside his house. In 1997 the reward was doubled, and the next year the highest Iranian state prosecutor Morteza Moqtadale renewed the death sentence. During this period of fatwa violent protest in India, Pakistan, and Egypt caused several deaths. In 1990 Rushdie published an essay In Good Faith to appease his critics and issued an apology in which he reaffirmed his respect for Islam. However, Iranian clerics did not repudiate their death threat.
Since the religious decree, Rushdie has shunned publicity, hiding from assassins, but he has continued to write and publish books. THE MOORS LAST SIGHT (1995) focused on contemporary India, and explored those activities, directed at Indian Muslims and lower castes, of right-wing Hindu terrorists. THE GROUND BENEATH HER FEET (1999) was set in the world of hedonistic rock stars, a mixture of mythology and elements from the repertoire of science fiction. In FURY (2001) Malik Solanka, a former Cambridge professor, tries to find a new life in New York City. He has left his wife and son and created an animated philosophising doll, Little Brain, which has its own successful TV series. In New York he has blackouts and violent rages and becomes involved with two women, Mila, who looks like Little Brain, and a beautiful freedom fighter named Neela Mahendra. "Though Mr. Rushdie weaves his favorite themes - of exile, metamorphosis and rootlessness - around Solanka's story, though he tries hard to lend his hero's experiences an allegorical weight, Fury lacks the fierce, visionary magic of The Moor's Last Sigh and Midnight's Children." (Michiko Kakutani in the New York Times, August 31, 2001) In Newsweek (September 17, 2001) STEP ACROSS THIS LINE (2003) was a collection of non-fiction from 1992-2002. Most of its articles were written while the fatwa was in place.
Rushdie has been married four times, first in 1976 to Clarissa Luard and after divorce in 1988 to the American writer Marianne Wiggins. The marriage broke up during their enforced underground life. However, on September 1998 the Iranian government announced that the state is not going to put into effect the fatwa or encourage anybody to do so. According to interviews, Rushdie has decided to end his hiding. On February 1999 Ayatollah Hassan Sanei promised a 2,8 million dollar reward for killing the author. In the beginning of 2000 Rushdie left his third wife after falling in love with the actress Padma Lakshmi and moved from London to New York. They married in 2004, but in June 2007, Rushdie agreed to divorce.
After Rushdie was made a knight by Britain's Queen Elizabeth II in 2007, demonstrations broke out across the Islamic world. A government minister in Pakistan declared that Rushdie's knighthood justifies suicide bombing. THE ENCHANTRESS OF FLORENCE (2008), finished in the aftermath of divorce, was a historical romance about the mutual suspicion and mistrust between East and West, in this case Renaissance Florence and India's Mughal Empire. From 1982, Rushdie has played himself in several television films. In 2007 he appeared as Dr. Masani, a gynecologist, in Helen Hunt's comedy Then She Found Me.
For further reading: Critical Essays on Salman Rushdie, ed. by M. Keith Booker (1999); An Attempt to Understand the Muslim Reaction to the Satanic Verses by Victoria Laporte (1999); Salman Rushdie by D. C. R. A. Goonetilleke (1998); The Salman Rushdie Bibliography by Joel Kuortti (1997); Unending Metamorphoses: Myth, Satire and Religion in Salman Rushdie's Novels by Margareta Petersson (1996); Salman Rushdie by Catherine Cundy (1996); Blasphemy: Verbal Offense Against the Sacred, from Moses to Salman Rushdie by Leonard W. Levy (1995); A Satanic Affair by Malise Ruthven (1990); The Rushdie File, ed. by L. Appignanesi and S. Maitland (1990); The Rushdie Affair by D. Pipes (1990); Salman Rushdie, Sentenced to Death by W.J. Weatherby (1990); The Perforated Sheet by Uma Parameswaran (1988) - For further information: The Lavin Agency - Note: The Irish rock-group U2 has recorded Rushdie's poem from his book The Ground Beneath Her Feet Selected works:
  • GRIMUS, 1975
  • MIDNIGHT'S CHILDREN, 1981 (Booker-McConnell prize) - Keskiyön lapset (suom. Arto Häilä,1982)
  • SHAME, 1983 (winner of the Prix du Meilleur Livre Étranger) - Häpeä (suom. Arto Häilä, 1983)
  • THE JAGUAR SMILE: A NICARAGUAN JOURNEY, 1987 - Jaguaarin hymy: matka Nicaraguaan (suom. Arto Häilä, 1987)
  • THE SATANIC VERSES, 1988 - Saatanalliset säkeet (suom. Arto Häilä, 1989)
  • HAROUN AND THE SEA OF STORIES, 1990 - Harun ja tarinoiden meri (suom. Arto Häilä, 1991)
  • IN GOOD FAITH, 1990
  • WIZARD OF OZ, 1992
  • EAST, WEST, 1994 - Itä, länsi (suom. Arto Häilä, 1995)
  • THE MOOR'S LAST SIGH, 1995 - Maurin viimeinen huokaus (suom. Arto Häilä, 1996)
  • ed.: MIRRORWORK: 50 YEARS OF INDIAN WRITING: 1947-1997, 1997 (with Elisabeth West)
  • THE GROUND BENEATH HER FEET, 1999 - Maa hänen jalkojensa alla (suom. Arto Häilä, 1999)
  • FURY, 2001 - Vimma (suom. Arto Häilä, 2002)
  • SHALIMAR THE CLOWN, 2005 - Shalimar, ilveilijä (suom. Arto Häilä, 2006)


Post a Comment

Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites More

Powered by Blogger