Sir Ahmed Salman Rushdie is a British Indian essayist and novelist born on 19th June 1947. He belonged to a well educated family. His father was Anis Ahmed Rushdie, who was a lawyer from Cambridge University and had his own business. His mother Negin Bhatt was a teacher. He went to the Cathedral and John Connon School in Mumbai and Rugby School in England. His college was the King’s College and for graduate studies he went to Cambridge University like his father receiving a Masters Degree in History in 1968.
He had aspired to become a writer since he was five. He started off by acting for a brief time period after which he did some freelance advertising for almost ten years. Rushdie’s first book was ‘Grimus’ which was published in 1975. It was a story about an immortal Native American Eagle who goes on an expedition to find out life’s true sense. Meanwhile Rushdie was still working as a freelance Ad writer, taking him nearly five years to finish off his second book ‘Midnight Children’ which was released in 1981.
His book ‘The Satanic Verses’ (1988) turned Rushdie’s life into a nightmare. The book’s story refers to certain Quranic verses that were removed because they were about a time in the Prophets life that was offensive to the Muslims. This spread an outrage among the Muslim world and Ayatullah Rahola Khomeini issued a ‘fatwa’ or ‘death sentence’ for Rushdie. The largest bookselling chains removed his book from their shelves and Rushdie went into hiding. There were book burnings all over the world condemning the book that had insulted the Muslims so badly. Those who talked taking Rushdie’s side publicly were murdered and Rushdie also became the center of many jokes later on. His marriage had also previously been dissolved due to life threat to his wife. Rushdie however remarried and had a son.
Rushdie made a public apology and embraced Islam but continued to live in isolation for many years. In 1990 another novel by Rushdie was released called ‘Haroun and the Sea of Stories’. His book ‘The Moor’s Last Sigh’ also received criticism from Hindus. ‘The Ground Beneath Her Feet’ was published in 1999. It tells a singer’s story; that gets lost during an earthquake.
His writing style can be called ‘magical realism’ combined with historical fiction. His stories center on the Indian Subcontinent and mostly contain themes like migrations to and fro the East and West and the incidences occurring in between them. His book ‘The Midnights Children’ got the ‘Booker Prize’. He was appointed Knight Bachelor by Queen Elizabeth in 2007 because of his immense contribution to English literature. He is the ‘Commandeur’ in the ‘Ordre des Art et des Lettres’ of France. Rushdie is also on the 13th writer in ‘The Times’ list of ‘The 50 Greatest British writers since 1945’.
The latest novel by Rushdie is called ‘Luka and the Fire of Life’ was published in 2010. Other books written by him include ‘Fury’ (2001), ‘Shalimar and the Clown’ (2005) and ‘The Enchantress of Florence’ (2008).