Salman Rushdie writing memoir of years in hiding 2


There is a Reuters news report that Salman Rushdie is working on a memoir about his hidden years

The 63-year-old said of the memoir that there was an “information vacuum” to fill, and that he finally felt it was time to confront a difficult period in his life.

“I’m beginning to write this memoir,” Rushdie told Reuters in an interview. “I’ve written about … 100 pages of book and I reckon very roughly that feels like a quarter of the story. I’m aiming, in my mind, for the end of next year (to finish it).

The Satanic Verses, which appeared in 1988, was Rushdie’s fourth novel.

The allegorical fantasy about the struggle between good and evil was seen by many Muslims as blasphemous, leading to riots and calls for the novel to be banned.

In 1989, a fatwa was proclaimed forcing the writer into hiding which he only fully emerged from nine years later, despite occasional public appearances between 1989 and 1998.

“A lot of people don’t know what happened under that shroud of secrecy,” Rushdie said.

You can read the full report here.

I cannot help be ponder the thought, if the Ayatollah Khomeini had not issued a death edict against him in 1989 for writing “The Satanic Verses,” because he deemed it blasphemous to Islam, would we have ever heard of Rushdie? In fact would the book itself have had any impact at all?

Yet, while it was perhaps a financially rewarding experience, I also strongly suspect it was one Rushdie would not wish to repeat, and that he would quite happily exchange all the financial rewards to simply have those years in hiding back, for it did not just personally impact him, but would have also rippled out into the lives of all those whom he was close to.

I suspect the memoir will indeed make interesting reading, so I shall look forward to its publication.

Now, this is perhaps the point where I might normally point my finger at the Islamic belief system, and mutter something negative about it. However, I don’t feel I need to do that at all, not because I support it in any way, nor is it a fear of having to go on the run, but rather, when it comes to judgement, I find no need to add anything at all. By condemning the author of an allegorical fantasy about the struggle between good and evil, the Islamic clerics have in reality actually passed judgement upon themselves.


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2 thoughts on “Salman Rushdie writing memoir of years in hiding

  • Dave Gamble Post author

    Hi Bal, you are of course quite correct and I agree 100% that his place in modern literature was indeed assured.

    However, I guess the point I was making is that if you stopped a random stranger on the street and asked them to name one booker prize winner, many could not do so. If you then asked “Who wrote the Satanic Verses?”, many would know.

    For all the wrong reasons, Khomeini motivated many to be curious and to seek out his book. Even though it had (quite rightly) won the 1988 Whitbread Award for novel of the year, it was the controversy that very much projected both him and the book into the popular mindset.

  • Bal

    “if the Ayatollah Khomeini had not issued a death edict against him in 1989 for writing “The Satanic Verses,” because he deemed it blasphemous to Islam, would we have ever heard of Rushdie?”. Before Satanic Verses reared its head Rushdie was already a Booker Prize winner who had written the iconic Midnight’s Children. With that book alone his place in modern literature was assured.