Rushdie terms British monarchy 'stupid, archaic'

Last Updated 26 September 2010, 03:59 IST

The brilliant author, winner of the 'Booker of the Bookers', who has a penchant for controversy said in an interview to The Sunday Times: "The monarchy and its traditions are archaic.. stupid... a British oddity".

Asked, then why did he accept the knighthood, Sir Rushdie, now a British citizen, said he had received an honour from the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in France, and it would have been extraordinary to accept something from the French state and "then refuse something from my own country".

The 63-year-old author thought the ceremony itself was a bit ridiculous, "all structured around this furious archaic thing of queens and knights, all a bit stupid, but it's what we do. You take it for the spirit of it, which is to be complimentary about your work. And I think, thanks very much... We got our medal and left."

The author of 'Midnight's Children', who has married four times, admitted that his love life has been in "endless turmoil".He was "angriest" in 2007 when Padma Lakshmi ended their three-year marriage, the report said.

But Rushdie is best friends again with his third wife Elizabeth West, whom he sees every day, and who drops their son "Milan and his dog off for the photoshoot," it said.

He said he had remained friends with his first wife Clarissa Luard too and when she died of cancer 11 years ago, he was in the room with their son Zafar.The divorce with Luard, it said, was "accidentally beneficial" to Zafar, because when the fatwa was imposed and Rushdie had to go into hiding, the then nine-years old boy, had the opportunity of living with his mother.

Asked if his last book 'The Enchantress of Florence' was based on his last wife Padma, Rushdie said "actually, I wasn't thinking about Padma," but added, "and I wouldn't pay her the compliment."

Born and brought up in Mumbai, Rushdie said he felt uncomfortable when his businessman father enrolled him at a "sport-obsessed institution".Even as a 13-year-old he was a "cultural misfit" who yearned for acceptance and missed the women in his family - "confident women who took no shit," he said.

At Cambridge, he felt more at home and decided to stay in England, he said.
Rushdie is close to his sisters and credits them for his love of the company of women. He said the sudden death of his youngest sister three years ago was "shattering".
Rushdie said he "tries very hard as a father", but is "not proud" at the mess of his personal life and the "sadness" it has brought his children.

He also said that he does not want to make the same mistakes as his own father, who was "an abusive alcoholic" and with whom he had a strained relationship.
However, he said his father was "very supportive" when he told him that he did not want to work with his textile factory.

Towards the end of his father's life, he said "things got better"."I turned 40 in June 1987, and he died in November of that year. He wrote me a letter on my birthday, which was really astonishing.

"It showed me what I'd never understood - that he'd read and appreciated my books and was obviously proud of me in a way he'd never quite been able to tell me. That was very important and it was the last five months of his life."So by the time he died we were kind of at peace with each other," he said.

(Published 26 September 2010, 03:59 IST)

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