Salman Rushdie is a novelist, short-story writer and essayist who gained international notoriety in 1989 when Iranian leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini demanded his execution for his portrayal of the prophet Mohammed in his novel, The Satanic Verses.
The book was banned in more than a dozen countries, and Khomeini issued a fatwa calling for the assassination of everyone involved in its publication. Within a few years, the book’s Japanese translator had been stabbed to death, its Italian translator was also stabbed, and its Norwegian publisher had been shot.
Born into a Muslim family in Bombay, India, in 1947, Rushdie began his writing career after moving to England in the 1970s. His second novel, Midnight’s Children, an allegory of post-independence Indian society, was awarded Britain’s Booker Prize for best novel. In 1993, the book was named the “Booker of Bookers,” as the best novel to receive the award in the prize’s 25-year history.
Rushdie is the author of several other acclaimed novels, including The Moor’s Last Sigh (1995) and The Ground Beneath Her Feet (1999), a book of stories and three works of non-fiction.
Among Rushdie’s numerous honors are the Whitbread Prize for best novel (which he was awarded twice), the Writers’ Guild Award, the European Union’s Aristeion Prize for Literature, the Crossword Book Award in India (the “Indian Booker Prize”), and the London International Writers’ Award. He holds the rank of Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres (France’s highest artistic honor), and is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.
His books have been translated into over forty languages. A film of Midnight’s Children, directed by Deepa Mehta, will be released in 2012, as well as an autobiographical memoir.