Rushdie and The Enchantress Of Florence

Nineteen years ago today, Ayatollah Khomeini issued his infamous death sentence against Salman Rushdie, which sent him into hiding. I met him at one of his first public appearances after that and he joked that it was nice to hang out with someone who wasn’t continually saying things like “Come in, Hudson Commander,” into his sleeve! Though the Iranian government has sensibly lifted the fatwa since then, Rushdie remains in danger (two of his translators have been murdered), and each year I try to remind readers of his plight and the dangers of extremism for art, and free speech in general.

This is from Emory Wheel:

SalmanrushdieSalman Rushdie, Emory distinguished writer-in-residence, kicked off the second of his five extended visits to Emory with a lecture addressing the overlapping social and literary trends in the reading of literature.

The lecture, titled “Autobiography and the Novel,” was held Sunday evening and examined the intermingling of writers’ lives with their texts.

Rushdie began his lecture by discussing three 18th century novels that were published anonymously: Robinson Crusoe, Tristram Shandy and Gulliver’s Travels. But these texts were still lauded as exceptional literature by their contemporaries despite the lack of knowledge about the authors’ personal life, Rushdie said.

“The personality and life story of the author was deemed not to be of any relevance to his work,” Rushdie argued. “Fiction was fiction. Life was life. Two hundred and fifty years ago people knew these were different things. This is no longer the case.”

More here. And this is from the British Sunday Times:

Rushdie2_280485aAfter hiding for more than a decade with a price on his head, the author Sir Salman Rushdie could be forgiven for objecting to a portrait that actually shows his face.

Instead of attending a conventional sitting, he submitted to a psychological test conducted at his New York apartment with a couple of Californian conceptual artists.

The result depicts Rushdie, 60, a slightly donnish, bearded figure, as a purple lobster floating before a fiery red planet, surrounded by snowflakes.

Alternatively, it provides a psychological profile of the novelist during the collapse of his marriage to his fourth wife, the model and food writer Padma Lakshmi, 37.

Rushdie faced death threats from Muslims after a fatwa was imposed on him by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Iran’s spiritual leader, in 1989, for his controversial book The Satanic Verses.

His knighthood, announced last June, prompted riots in Pakistan, and his separation from Lakshmi followed in July.

More here. And this is from All American Patriots:

N157477Random House will publish Salman Rushdie’s new novel, THE ENCHANTRESS OF FLORENCE, a dazzling historical novel set in Renaissance Florence and the court of the great Mughal Empire.

“This new novel marks a bold departure for Salman Rushdie in terms of setting and subject matter,” comments Will Murphy, Rushdie’s editor at Random House. “It is an amazing display of his gifts as a storyteller and will undoubtedly draw many new readers to his already wide audience.”

Drawing on more than seven years of research, THE ENCHANTRESS OF FLORENCE is the story of a woman attempting to command her own destiny in a man’s world. It brings together two cities that barely know each other the hedonistic Mughal capital, in which the brilliant emperor Akbar the Great wrestles daily with questions of belief, desire, and the treachery of his sons, and the equally sensual city of Florence, where Niccolò Machiavelli takes a starring role. A virtuoso feat of storytelling that mixes political intrigue and high drama, romance and magic, Rushdie’s novel also reflects on the dangers that come when fantasy and reality grow too interwined.

More here.