On 14 February 1989, Valentine’s Day, Salman Rushdie was telephoned by a BBC journalist and told that he had been ’sentenced to death’ by the Ayatollah Khomeini. For the first time, he heard the word fatwa, the author’s website reads. His crime? To have written a novel called The Satanic Verses.
The Honors College Distinguished Lecture Series at Boise State University presents author Sir Salman Rushdie at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 20, at the Morrison Center for the Performing Arts. His lecture, titled “Literature and Politics in the Modern World,” is free and open to the public. No tickets are required.
Rushdie has penned a handful of classic novels, influenced a generation of writers and received a Queen’s Knighthood for “services to literature.” He stands as both a pop culture icon and one of the most thought-provoking proponents for free speech today.
His other novels include The Moor’s Last Sigh, The Ground Beneath Her Feet, The Enchantress of Florence and Midnight’s Children, which won the Booker Prize in 1981 and later the Best of Booker. The novel has been adapted to film and premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. He also is the author of the bestselling memoir Joseph Anton.
An eclectic writer and noted public intellectual, Rushdie has won many of the world’s top literary prizes, published a heralded collection of essays titled “Step Across the Line,” written a book on “The Wizard of Oz” and served for two years as president of The PEN American Center, the world’s oldest human rights organization. His children’s novels include “Luka and the Fire of Life” and “Haroun and the Sea of Stories.” One of the most controversial and acclaimed novels ever written, The Satanic Verses is Salman Rushdie’s best-known and most galvanizing book.
Set in a modern world filled with both mayhem and miracles, the story begins with a bang: the terrorist bombing of a London-bound jet in midflight. Two Indian actors of opposing sensibilities fall to earth, transformed into living symbols of what is angelic and evil. This is just the initial act in a magnificent odyssey that seamlessly merges the actual with the imagined. A book whose importance is eclipsed only by its quality, The Satanic Verses is a key work of our times.
Banned in India before publication, this immense novel by Booker Prize-winner Rushdie pits Good against Evil in a whimsical and fantastic tale, Publisher’s Weekly said about The Satanic Verses.
Two actors from India, “prancing” Gibreel Farishta and “buttony, pursed” Saladin Chamcha, are flying across the English Channel when the first of many implausible events occurs: the jet explodes. As the two men plummet to the earth, “like titbits of tobacco from a broken old cigar,” they argue, sing and are transformed. When they are found on an English beach, the only survivors of the blast, Gibreel has sprouted a halo while Saladin has developed hooves, hairy legs and the beginnings of what seem like horns. What follows is a series of allegorical tales that challenges assumptions about both human and divine nature. Rushdie’s fanciful language is as concentrated and overwhelming as a paisley pattern. Angels are demonic and demons are angelic as we are propelled through one illuminating episode after another. The narrative is somewhat burdened by self-consciousness that borders on preciosity, but for Rushdie fans this is a splendid feast.
“It is literature which for me opened the mysterious and decisive doors of imagination and understanding. To see the way others see. To think the way others think. And above all, to feel.” – Salman Rushdie