Rushdie, Salman, 1947-
Full name: Ahmed Salman Rushdie.
British Indian novelist of Kashmiri Muslim descent born in Bombay,
resident in the United States since 2000. Most of his work is set in South Asia
and merges historical fiction with magical realism. His writings have made him
a cause célèbre, controversial in the Muslim world but lauded on civil rights and
religious freedom grounds in the West. A recipient of numerous literary awards,
he was knighted in 2007.
Midnight's Children. 1981.
Saleem Sinai is a boy born at midnight of August 15, 1947, the moment of India's
independence, and seemingly in consequence possessed of special powers, one of
hundreds of children so blessed born in the nation's first hour. Saleem serves as
a telepathic link between these "midnight's children." The first several decades
of India's nationhood are seen through the eyes and experiences of Saleem, his
family, and the other children. Awarded the Booker Prize and the English Speaking
Union Literary Award and shared the James Tait Black Memorial Prize in 1981, the
special Booker of Bookers prize in 1993 and the special Best of the Booker prize
in 2008. Adapted to stage in 2003 and film in 2012.
The Satanic Verses. 1988.
Gibreel Farishta and Saladin Chamcha, expatriate Indian actors living in Britain,
are miraculously saved from the explosion of a hijacked plane, thereafter taking on
aspects of an angel and devil, respectively. Farishta tries to resume his former life
under the shadow of increasing mental illness, while Chamcha, feeling forsaken in
the wake of their magical preservation, seeks to ruin him. Farishta forgives and
saves Chamcha, but ultimately commits suicide after murdering his English lover in
a fit of jealous insanity. The redeemed Chamcha successfully reintegrates with his
family and heritage. The narrative is enriched by dream visions experienced by
Farishta, among them one involving a historically attested revelation of Mohammed
seeming to favor some elements of the old polytheism supplanted by Islam, later
recanted. This sequence was found offensive by some devout Muslims and led to violent
protests and death threats against the author, most infamously embodied in a fatwa
by Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini. The novel was a finalist for the Booker Prize
in 1988 and winner of the 1988 Whitbread Award for novel of the year. It remains
banned in most Muslim countries.
Jan. 6, 2014,
and last updated
Jan. 6, 2014.
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Additional material © 1999-2014 by Brian Kunde.