Dowmel Lecture: Salman Rushdie 11/5/07

Great Barrington, MA – Salman Rushdie was born in 1947 in Bombay, India, to a middle class Moslem family. Rushdie was educated in England and eventually received his M.A. from King's College, Cambridge.

After a brief career as an actor he became a freelance advertising copywriter in England from 1970 to 1980. The experience of expatriation, which he shared with many writers of his generation who were born in the Third World, is an important theme in his work. His paternal grandfather was an Urdu poet, and his father a Cambridge educated businessman. At the age of fourteen Rushdie was sent to rugby School in England. In 1964 Rushdie's parents moved to Karachi, Pakistan, reluctantly joining the Muslim exodus - during these years there was a war between India and Pakistan, and the choosing of sides and divided loyalties burdened Rushdie heavily.

The Indian/British author Ahmed Salman Rushdie was a political parablist whose work often focused on outrages of history and particularly of religions. After the appearance of his first novel, he was called a writer to watch and was awarded one of the most prestigious literary prizes in Europe for his second novel. Salman Rushdie became a household word because of the enemies his fiction made rather than the admirers. The Satanic Verses, published in 1988, earned him a death sentence from Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, then religious sovereign of Iran and spiritual leader to millions of fundamentalist Moslems worldwide.

Rushdie unfailingly took the stance of a lifelong member of the diaspora, which may be the most consistently autobiographical aspect of his work. Long before his hurried exile from the public eye, in an interview published after Midnight's Children received the Booker McConnell Prize, Rushdie presciently said: "I have a fear that it may, at some point, become necessary to make personal life style choices among (India, England, and America), and that it will be very painful."

Works by Salman Rushdie include: Midnight's Children, Shame, The Ground Beneath Her Feet, and The Moor's Last Sigh.

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