Rushdie ventures to write memories of his life under threat

Last Updated : 17 July 2010, 09:57 IST
Last Updated : 17 July 2010, 09:57 IST

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Rushdie has began to write about what he calls his life's lost chapter, the years he spent in hiding from the death fatwa issued against him by the Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini.

It was on Valentine's Day in 1989 that Khomeini called for the death of everyone involved in the publication of Rushdie's fourth novel 'The Satanic Verses', which he said was blasphemous.

This week, at an event organised by the literary magazine Granta, 63-year-old Rushdie confirmed that the moment to write about his life in mufti had arrived.
"I am writing it now,"  he said.
"I found it kind of annoying that other people kept offering versions of it that were all bulls..."

During those critical years, Rushdie is believed to have lived in 30 different locations but apart from occasional last-minute appearance at literary gatherings, dinners and one on stage at Wembley Stadium during a U2 gig, his exact whereabouts and activities for most of that time remain a mystery.
He was guarded round the clock by Special Branch officers at an estimated cost of 11 million pounds.

British bookshops were bombed.
A would-be assassin accidentally blew himself up in a London hotel room; a Norwegian publisher was shot; the novel's Japanese translator was stabbed to death in Tokyo; 37 people died in an arson attack in Turkey aimed at a Turkish translator.
Thousands of articles and at least six books have explored what became known as the Rushdie affair but the author and his friends have kept largely silent about what actually happened to him, until now.
"I just thought it might be time to tell that story," Rushdie said, according to a report in The Times.

"I always for a long time did not want to tell it. First of all I was in it and that was not likeable. Then I got out of it and thought the last thing I want to do is put myself back in it and think about it for the next few years. Of course there were people telling me I should write it"

According to the report, he has written 70 pages so far.
One likely area of interest is the literary feuding over the fatwa between Rushdie and other writers, including Germaine Greer, John Le Carre and V S Naipaul, who publicly referred to the death threat as 'an extreme form of literary criticism'.
Rushdie's confinement ended in 1998 when the Iranian government gave a public commitment that it would not carry out the death sentence. However, the fatwa was never dropped.

The Iranian leaders say that the fatwa was issued by the supreme leader Ayatollah Khomeini and cannot be rescinded.

Published 17 July 2010, 09:57 IST

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