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Salman Rushdie: What is the controversy about his book 'The Satanic Verses'

Celebrated author Salman Rushdie spent a decade in hiding after the publication of 'The Satanic Verses' in 1988. The book was deemed blasphemous by many.

August 13, 2022 / 05:23 PM IST
File image of celebrated author Salman Rushdie (Image Source: AFP)

File image of celebrated author Salman Rushdie (Image Source: AFP)

The attack on celebrated author Salman Rushdie at an event in New York on August 12 has triggered shock and condemnation across the world.

The author is on ventilator after being stabbed, with people close to him saying he may lose an eye. His attacker has been arrested.

Salman Rushdie, a champion of free expression, has long faced threats to his life because of his work.

The Indian-born author's most controversial work to date has been the 1988 postmodernist novel The Satanic Verses, which was seen as blasphemous by many from the Muslim community. The magical realist work delves deep into Islamic beliefs, and in parts, challenges them.

After the book's publication, Ayatollah Khomeini, then the Supreme leader of Iran, had issued a fatwa or decree, calling for Rushdie to be killed. The decree forced Rushdie to go into hiding for a decade in the United Kingdom.


The years following the book's publication were turbulent. There were demonstrations against it around the world and a translator of the book was murdered. Many countries banned The Satanic Verses.

Relief came for the author in 1998 when the reformist Iranian government declared it would no longer back the fatwa issued against him.

Rushdie told CNN that year he was saddened by attacks on people associated with his book but had no regrets about writing it. The book was an important piece in the corpus of his work, he said.

"I could ask for apologies. I've had 10 years of my life deformed by this," Rushdie added. "I've had friends of mine threatened, I've had my family frightened, messed around with, I've had people that I care about shot and killed. I could ask for apologies. I'm not doing so. I think all that's nonsense. I would say get over it."

Rushdie, who is among the world's most respected authors, has 14 novels to his credit. His work also includes a memoir and a collection of essays.

One of his most celebrated books has been Midnight's Children, an enchanting book about postcolonial India. In 2007, he was knighted for his literary contributions.
Ria Saini
first published: Aug 13, 2022 08:56 am
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