sábado, 30 de novembro de 2013

The Angel's Game - Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Speaking to a few avid readers and book lovers (like myself) made me hear the name "Carlos Ruiz Zafon" quite a few times accompanied by some good comments and reviews on his many famous books. The first book of his I got to read was "Marina" and I enjoyed it a great deal - but in my honest opinion it wasn't what I consider an outstanding book. It was a good read, pleasurable and a bit different from the kinds of books I had been reading lately (Zafon has a thing for the supernatural/fantasy story kind of deal). It was good as I finally got to know a bit of his writing style and I no longer was totally in the black when I heard something about him/his books and could give my humble opinion. 
Very humble indeed as I had actually read only one of his books. And so then last week I picked up his latest book "The Angel's Game" and came to like both the author and his style of writing even more than I had before when I read "Marina". 
This time I was able to really get pulled in by both characters, plot and story and got that amazing (and one of my favorite) feelings that I was in the book's grasp and would only be let free once the last page was closed and done. 
This book also included a lot of fantasy, underworld and surreal instances - but that just added to the suspense and instigated me to go on further and further through the book to discover what lay behind it all. Well written, well thought of - I'm a fan!!!

Wikipedia on "The Angel's Game"

The Angel's Game (El juego del ángel, 2008) is a prequel to 2001's The Shadow of the Wind by Spanish author Carlos Ruiz Zafón. Like The Shadow of the Wind, it was translated into English by Lucia Graves, daughter of the poet Robert Graves, and published in 2009.
The Angel's Game is set in Barcelona in the 1920s and 1930s and follows a young writer, David Martin, who is approached by a mysterious figure to write a book. The novel returns to The Cemetery of Forgotten Books in Barcelona's Raval district, and the Sempere & Sons bookshop, from The Shadow of the Wind.
In the next book of the series "The Prisoner of Heaven" we hear that Davíd Martín was imprisoned in the Montjuic Castle in 1940. There he wrote the book "The Angel´s Game". We also find out that he is considered schizophrenic, talking to himself and characters who are not there. This leads to our conclusion that much of what appeared to happen in the book "The Angel´s Game" may not have happened, but could have been Martíns dreams/illusions/fantasies.


The Canadian Press's Maclean's Magazine placed The Angel's Game as number one for their top ten hardcover fiction books for the week ending July 7, 2009.[1] Marley Walker called it "Zafon's ambitious new historic melodrama."[2] USA Today praised The Angel's Game as "a multi-layered confection that combines undying love, magical realism, meditations on religion, the importance of books and a love affair with the vibrant city of Barcelona."[3]
Andrew Reimer said, "Here is more of the same from the author of The Shadow of the Wind " which "is bound to make his fans whoop with joy." However, he also added, "the climax of this new tale is a bit of a mess, with too many twists and turns and perhaps a few too many corpses."[4]
Aravind Adiga of The Age complained that there was "plenty that is ludicrous, cliched and schematic," but explained that "[l]overs of Barcelona will enjoy Ruiz Zafon's skillful use of that city's architecture--Gothic and Modern."[5] 

segunda-feira, 28 de outubro de 2013

Inferno - Dan Brown

As everyone here must already know I am a big fan of Dan Brown and his many books. Not only are they full of adrenaline, action packed and have a great plot they also are very informative historically speaking. The characters in his book are usually uncommon people with interesting perspectives making it easy for the reader to interact mentally with each one of them.
Now about Inferno what I loved most - even more than the characters, plot, historical information - was the detailed descriptions of the different European cities Dr. Landon finds himself in and all the exploring he does. Especially after having been in a few of these cities that are spread out in the story's pages that just made it all the more interesting for me.
It was as if every time the author goes on to describe Venice's canals, gondolas, architecture, smells, sights and sounds I was transported back into my own memories of wanderlust - and believe it or not, I felt like as if I were in the middle of the story and not just a spectator viewing it from afar and unbeknownst to what is going all around me.
Bravo once again to Dan Brown and his many successful books! 

Wikipedia on "Inferno":

nferno is a 2013 mystery thriller novel by renowned American author Dan Brown and the fourth book in his Robert Langdon series, following Angels & DemonsThe Da Vinci Code and The Lost Symbol.[1] The book was released on May 14, 2013 by Doubleday.[2] It was number one on the New York Times Best Seller list for hardcover fiction and Combined Print & E-book fiction for the first eleven weeks of its release, and also remained on the list of E-book fiction for the first seventeen weeks of its release. 


Harvard University professor Robert Langdon wakes up in a hospital with a head wound and no memory of the last few days. His last memory is walking on the Harvard campus, but he quickly realizes that he is now in Florence. Sienna Brooks, one of the doctors tending to him, tells him he suffered a concussion from being grazed by a bullet and had stumbled into the emergency ward. Suddenly, Vayentha, a female assassin who has been following Robert, breaks into the hospital, shoots the doctor in charge of Robert's care, and approaches Robert's room. Sienna grabs Robert and they flee to her apartment.
After Sienna recounts the details of his admission to hospital, Robert finds a cylinder with a biohazard sign in his jacket and decides to call the U.S.consulate. He is told that they are searching for him and want his location. Per Sienna's guidance, Robert gives them a location across the street from Sienna's apartment to avoid getting Sienna more involved in his mysterious situation than she already is. Soon, Robert sees an armed Vayentha pull up to the location Robert gave the consulate. At this point Sienna and Robert believe the U.S. government wants to kill him.
Robert decides to open the container and finds a small medieval bone cylinder fitted with a hi-tech projector that displays a modified version ofBotticelli's Map of Hell. At the bottom of the illumination are the words "The truth can be glimpsed only through the eyes of death." Suddenly, soldiers raid Sienna's building; Sienna and Robert narrowly escape.
Palazzo Vecchio of Florence
Robert and Sienna head toward the Old City, believing the cylinder must have something to do with Dante. However, they find that Florentine police and Carabinieri officers have sealed the bridges and are searching for them. They run into a construction site near the Boboli Gardens where Robert illuminates the modified "Map of Hell" again, notices that individual letters, which collectively spell "CATROVACER," have been added to each of the ten layers of the Malebolge, and that the layers have been rearranged. Moving them back to the order in the original Botticelli "Map of Hell" yields the words "CERCA TROVA". Robert recognizes these are the same words on the painting The Battle of Marciano byVasari, located in the Palazzo Vecchio. Robert and Sienna manage to evade the soldiers and get into the Old City using the Vasari Corridor.
Robert stands in front of The Battle of Marciano trying to figure out where to go next by connecting the "eyes of death" phrase in the modified "Map of Hell" with his location. A custodian sees Robert snooping around and gets the director of the museum in the Palazzo Vecchio, Marta Alvarez. Marta recognizes Robert, having met him and Ignazio Busoni, the director of Il Duomo, the previous night. She leads Robert and Sienna up a set of stairs by The Battle of Marciano, and Robert realizes the top of the stairs is on the same level as the words "cerca trova" in the The Battle of Marciano painting. Marta tells Robert that she showed them Dante'sdeath mask the previous night, which sits in a room down the hall from the Battle of Marciano painting. Robert realizes he is retracing his own steps from the previous night. Marta takes Robert and Sienna to the mask who find that it's gone. They look at security footage and see Robert himself and Ignazio stealing the mask. The museum guards turn on Robert and Sienna. At this moment, Marta calls Ignazio's office to question him but is greeted by his secretary, who informs Marta that Ignazio died of a heart attack the other night but left a message for Robert moments before he died. Ignazio's secretary asks to speak with Robert and plays to him Ignazio's message. In it Ignazio esoterically tells Robert where the mask is hidden, referring to "Paradise 25."
Gates of Paradise atFlorence Baptistery
Robert and Sienna escape the guards, but the soldiers arrive. They cross the attic over the Apotheosis of Cosimo I, where Sienna pushes Vayentha to her death. Robert connects the phrase "Paradise 25" to the Florence Baptistry, where he and Sienna find the Dante mask along with a riddle from its current owner, a billionaire geneticist named Bertrand Zobrist. A man named Jonathan Ferris, with a large bruise on his chest which he hides from the two, claiming to be from theWorld Health Organization (WHO), comes and helps them escape the soldiers. They follow the riddle to Venice, where Jonathan suddenly falls unconscious. Robert is captured by a group of black-clad soldiers while Sienna escapes.
Robert is taken to Elizabeth Sinskey, the director-general of the WHO, and is given an explanation of what is going on: Zobrist, who committed suicide the week before, was a mad scientist and Dante fanatic who has supposedly developed a new biological plague that will kill off a large portion of the world's population in order to quickly solve the problem of the world's impending overpopulation. Elizabeth raided Zobrist's safe deposit box, found the cylinder, and flew Robert to Florence to follow the clues. However, Robert stopped communicating with Elizabeth after meeting with Marta and Ignazio, and the WHO feared he betrayed them and was working with Zobrist to unleash the plague. The soldiers were the WHO's emergency response team and never meant to kill Robert.
Zobrist had paid a shadowy consulting group called The Consortium to protect the cylinder until a certain date. When Elizabeth took it away, they were obligated to protect whatever the bone cylinder pointed to. They kidnapped Robert after the meeting with Marta and Ignazio, but Robert hadn't yet solved the whole riddle. They gave Robert benzodiazepine drugs to erase his short-term memory, created a fake head wound, and staged every event up to this point so that Robert would be motivated to solve it. Sienna, Vayentha, and Jonathan are all actors working for The Consortium; the call to the U.S. consulate was also staged. The leader of The Consortium, having become aware of the bioterrorism plot, has agreed to cooperate with the WHO.
Tomb of Enrico Dandolo, at the Hagia Sophia.
Sienna goes rogue, and The Consortium realizes she was a secret supporter and lover of Zobrist. She learned where the plague is being kept after Robert solved the riddle and acquires a private jet to get to it before everyone else. Robert, the WHO, and The Consortium team up to stop her by going to the riddle's actual location: the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, where Enrico Dandolo is buried. Robert and the others find the plague is in the Cistern, but discover that Sienna is already there. The bag that held the plague had already been broken for an entire week, spreading through the outer world via visiting tourists. Sienna runs out of the Cistern yelling something in Turkish, which causes panic among the tourists who stampede out into the city.
Inside Basilica Cistern, with water below and tourists above.
It is discovered Sienna didn't puncture the bag; it was water soluble and had dissolved one week previously in the Cistern waters, meaning that the whole world has already been infected. It is also discovered that Sienna was trying to stop the virus herself, but didn't trust the WHO because samples of the virus would certainly find their way into the hands of governments performing weapons research. The leader of The Consortium tries to escape WHO custody with help from disguised underlings, but is caught later by Turkish police. It is implied that The Consortium will be investigated and ruined. Sienna receives amnesty in exchange for working with the WHO to address the crisis, since she is a medical doctor and transhumanist writer.
The plague that Zobrist created is revealed to be a vector virus that randomly activates to employ DNA modification to cause sterility in 1/3 of humans. Even with future generic engineering technology, changing the human genome back would be hazardous. The human race, therefore, has been forced into a new age.


  • Robert Langdon: A professor of symbology at Harvard University and the protagonist of the novel.
  • Bertrand Zobrist: The principle antagonist of the novel despite committing suicide in the prologue. A genius scientist and a madman who is obsessed with Dante's Inferno, he is intent on solving the world's overpopulation problem by releasing a virus.
  • (Felicity) Sienna Brooks: A doctor and Zobrist's former lover. She also worked for The Consortium. She helps Langdon find the virus Zobrist created, but her past relationship with Zobrist makes her loyalty to Langdon suspicious until the end of the novel. She was a loyal disciple of Zobrist until she reads his last letter and decided to get his new technology before it can fall into the wrong hands. She believes the World Health Organization will cooperate with other government agencies to use Zobrist's new virus for weapons. She uses The Consortium and Robert to follow the Map of Hell and get to ground zero before everyone else, but she realizes that Zobrist had set off a futile search as he released his virus well beforehand.
  • Elizabeth Sinskey: The head of the World Health Organization who hires Langdon to find Zobrist's virus.
  • The Provost: The head of The Consortium and the secondary antagonist. He tries to accomplish Zobrist's wishes by securing the location of the virus from Langdon and Sinskey and to divulge a video Zobrist made before his death to the media. When he learns that he was helping Zobrist in a bioterrorist attack, he helps the World Health Organization to find the weapon. He is eventually arrested for his hand in the events.
  • Vayentha: Secondary antagonist and The Consortium's agent in Florence who has orders to follow Langdon, she is later disavowed by The Consortium. She falls to her death following a confrontation with Robert and Sienna in the Palazzo Vecchio.
  • Christoph Brüder: Head of the SRS team (part of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control) who is ordered by Sinskey to find Langdon after she lost contact with him.
  • Marta Alvarez: An employee in Palazzo Vecchio in Florence who assists Langdon with Dante's death mask. She is pregnant with her first child.
  • Ignazio Busoni/il Dumino: The director of Il Duomo in Florence who assists Langdon with Dante's death mask. He succumbs to a heart attack prior to the events of the novel.
  • Jonathan Ferris: An agent of The Consortium who pretends to be in league with the World Health Organization. He used fake eyebrows and a mustache to pretend to be Dr. Marconi at the beginning of the novel.
  • Ettore Vio: The curator of St. Mark's basilica in Venice.
  • Mirsat: A guide of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul.

domingo, 8 de setembro de 2013

Joseph Anton: A Memoir - Salman Rushdie

Salman Rushdie - a highly intelligent man, talented writer and polemic character. A man who had his life hanging by a thread and yet was brave enough to pursue and fight for his liberty and most importantly, the freedom of speech. 
Nine years of hiding, four wives, two sons. Fatwa, a price over his head, bodyguards, media - the right of living as a normal man snatched from his hands in less than a second. And all only because of words. A book. Nothing more, nothing less. And yet it was more than enough to sentence him to a life of running, hiding and official government protection. Yes he was sentenced to death. By whom? The Fatwa. For what? Having written a novel called The Satanic Verses, which was accused of being  ‘against Islam, the Prophet and the Quran’.
And so after nine long suffering years Salman Rushdie is finally able to write his story and let the whole world know what it was to be in his skin. A long winded six-hundred page book which at times gets long and tiring but not tiring enough for you to put it down and totally let go of it. To the contrary - the book requires time to digest it, to think, deliberate and let his words sink. It's just too much information all at once. And slowly but surely the reader is able to understand, condone and relate to the writer and his desire to live and let his words live and echo without censure, bars or prohibition. 

Wikipedia on "Salman Rushdie":

Sir Ahmed Salman Rushdie (Kashmiriअहमद सलमान रुशदी (Devanagari)احمد سلمان رشدی (Nastaʿlīq)/sælˈmɑːn ˈrʊʃdi/;[3] born 19 June 1947[4]) is aBritish Indian novelist and essayist. His second novel, Midnight's Children (1981), won the Booker Prize in 1981. Much of his fiction is set on theIndian subcontinent. He is said to combine magical realism with historical fiction; his work is concerned with the many connections, disruptions and migrations between East and West.
His fourth novel, The Satanic Verses (1988), was the centre of a major controversy, provoking protests from Muslims in several countries, some violent. Death threats were made against him, including a fatwā issued by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the Supreme Leader of Iran, on 14 February 1989.
Rushdie was appointed Commandeur de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres of France in January 1999.[5] In June 2007, Queen Elizabeth II knighted himfor his services to literature.[6] In 2008, The Times ranked him thirteenth on its list of the fifty greatest British writers since 1945.[7]
Since 2000, Rushdie has lived in the United States, where he has worked at Emory University and was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 2012, he published Joseph Anton: A Memoir, an account of his life in the wake of the controversy over The Satanic Verses

Early life and family background

The son of Anis Ahmed Rushdie, a University of Cambridge-educated lawyer turned businessman, and Negin Bhatt, a teacher, Rushdie was born inBombay, India, into a Muslim family of Kashmiri descent.[1][8][9] Rushdie has three sisters.[10] He wrote in his 2012 memoir that his father adopted the name Rushdie in honour of Averroes (Ibn Rushd). He was educated at Cathedral and John Connon School in Mumbai, Rugby School, and King's CollegeUniversity of Cambridge, where he studied history.[4]



Rushdie's first career was as a copywriter, working for the advertising agency Ogilvy & Mather, where he came up with "irresistibubble" for Aero and "Naughty but Nice" for cream cakes, and for the agency Ayer Barker, for whom he wrote the memorable line "That'll do nicely" for American Express.[11] It was while he was at Ogilvy that he wrote Midnight's Children, before becoming a full-time writer.[12][13][14] John Hegarty of Bartle Bogle Hegarty has criticised Rushdie for not referring to his copywriting past frequently enough, although conceding: "He did write crap ads ... admittedly."[15]

Major literary work

His first novel, Grimus (1975), a part-science fiction tale, was generally ignored by the public and literary critics. His next novel, Midnight's Children (1981), catapulted him to literary notability. This work won the 1981 Booker Prize and, in 1993 and 2008, was awarded the Best of the Bookers as the best novel to have received the prize during its first 25 and 40 years.[16] Midnight's Childrenfollows the life of a child, born at the stroke of midnight as India gained its independence, who is endowed with special powers and a connection to other children born at the dawn of a new and tumultuous age in the history of the Indian sub-continent and the birth of the modern nation of India. The character of Saleem Sinai has been compared to Rushdie.[17] However, the author has refuted the idea of having written any of his characters as autobiographical, stating, "People assume that because certain things in the character are drawn from your own experience, it just becomes you. In that sense, I’ve never felt that I’ve written an autobiographical character."[18]
After Midnight's Children, Rushdie wrote Shame (1983), in which he depicts the political turmoil in Pakistan, basing his characters on Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq.Shame won France's Prix du Meilleur Livre Étranger (Best Foreign Book) and was a close runner-up for the Booker Prize. Both these works of postcolonial literature are characterised by a style ofmagic realism and the immigrant outlook that Rushdie is very conscious of as a member of the Indian diaspora.
Rushdie wrote a non-fiction book about Nicaragua in 1987 called The Jaguar Smile. This book has a political focus and is based on his first-hand experiences and research at the scene ofSandinista political experiments.
His most controversial work, The Satanic Verses, was published in 1988 (see section below).
In addition to books, Rushdie has published many short stories, including those collected in East, West (1994). The Moor's Last Sigh, a family epic ranging over some 100 years of India's history was published in 1995. The Ground Beneath Her Feet (1999) presents an alternative history of modern rock music. The song of the same name by U2 is one of many song lyrics included in the book; hence Rushdie is credited as the lyricist. He also wrote Haroun and the Sea of Stories in 1990.[citation needed]
Salman Rushdie presenting his book Shalimar the Clown
Rushdie has had a string of commercially successful and critically acclaimed novels. His 2005 novel Shalimar the Clown received, in India, the prestigious Hutch Crossword Book Award, and was, in Britain, a finalist for the Whitbread Book Awards. It was shortlisted for the 2007 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.[19]
In his 2002 non-fiction collection Step Across This Line, he professes his admiration for the Italian writer Italo Calvino and the American writer Thomas Pynchon, among others. His early influences included Jorge Luis BorgesMikhail BulgakovLewis CarrollGünter Grass, and James Joyce. Rushdie was a personal friend of Angela Carter's and praised her highly in the foreword for her collection Burning your Boats.
His novel Luka and the Fire of Life was published in November 2010. Earlier that year, he announced that he was writing his memoirs,[20] entitled Joseph Anton: A Memoir, which was published in September 2012.
In 2012, Salman Rushdie became one of the first major authors to embrace Booktrack (a company that synchronises ebooks with customised soundtracks), when he published his short story "In the South" on the platform.[21]

Other activities

Rushdie has quietly mentored younger Indian (and ethnic-Indian) writers, influenced an entire generation of Indo-Anglian writers, and is an influential writer in postcolonial literature in general.[22] He has received many plaudits for his writings, including the European Union's Aristeion Prize for Literature, the Premio Grinzane Cavour (Italy), and the Writer of the Year Award in Germany and many of literature's highest honours.[23] Rushdie was the President of PEN American Center from 2004 to 2006 and founder of the PEN World Voices Festival.[24]
He opposed the British government's introduction of the Racial and Religious Hatred Act, something he writes about in his contribution to Free Expression Is No Offence, a collection of essays by several writers, published by Penguin in November 2005.
Salman Rushdie having a discussion with Emory University students
In 2007 he began a five-year term as Distinguished Writer in Residence at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, where he has also deposited his archives.[25]
In May 2008 he was elected a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.[26]
Though he enjoys writing, Salman Rushdie says that he would have become an actor if his writing career had not been successful. Even from early childhood, he dreamed of appearing in Hollywood movies (which he later realised in his frequent cameo appearances).
Rushdie includes fictional television and movie characters in some of his writings. He had a cameo appearance in the film Bridget Jones's Diary based on the book of the same name, which is itself full of literary in-jokes. On 12 May 2006, Rushdie was a guest host on The Charlie Rose Show, where he interviewed Indo-Canadian filmmaker Deepa Mehta, whose 2005 film, Water, faced violent protests. He appears in the role of Helen Hunt's obstetrician-gynecologist in the film adaptation (Hunt's directorial debut) of Elinor Lipman's novel Then She Found Me. In September 2008, and again in March 2009, he appeared as a panellist on the HBO program "Real Time with Bill Maher". Rushdie has said that he was approached for a cameo in Talladega Nights: "They had this idea, just one shot in which three very, very unlikely people were seen as NASCAR drivers. And I think they approached Julian Schnabel,Lou Reed, and me. We were all supposed to be wearing the uniforms and the helmet, walking in slow motion with the heat haze." In the end their schedules didn't allow for it.[27]
Rushdie is currently[when?] collaborating on the screenplay for the cinematic adaptation of his novel Midnight's Children with director Deepa Mehta. The film will be called Midnight's Children.[28][29]Seema BiswasShabana AzmiNandita Das,[30] and Irrfan Khan are confirmed as participating in the film.[31] Production began in September 2010;[32] the film will be released on 26 October 2012.[33]
Rushdie announced in June 2011 that he had written the first draft of a script for a new television series for the US cable network Showtime, a project on which he will also serve as an executive producer. The new series, to be called The Next People, will be, according to Rushdie, "a sort of paranoid science-fiction series, people disappearing and being replaced by other people." The idea of a television series was suggested by his US agents, said Rushdie, who felt that television would allow him more creative control than feature film. The Next People is being made by the British film production company Working Title, the firm behind such projects as Four Weddings and a Funeral and Shaun of the Dead.[34]
Rushdie is a member of the advisory board of The Lunchbox Fund,[35] a non-profit organisation which provides daily meals to students of township schools in Soweto of South Africa. He is also a member of the advisory board of the Secular Coalition for America,[36] an advocacy group representing the interests of atheistic and humanistic Americans in Washington, D.C. In November 2010 he became a founding patron of Ralston College, a new liberal arts college that has adopted as its motto a Latin translation of a phrase ("free speech is life itself") from an address he gave at Columbia University in 1991 to mark the two-hundredth anniversary of the first amendment to the US Constitution.[37]
He took on Facebook over the use of his name in 2011. He won. Rushdie had asked to use his middle name Salman, which he is most recognised by. He described his online identity crisis in a series of messages posted on Twitter, among them "Dear #Facebook, forcing me to change my FB name from Salman to Ahmed Rushdie is like forcing J. Edgar to become John Hoover" and "Or, if F. Scott Fitzgerald was on #Facebook, would they force him to be Francis Fitzgerald? What about F. Murray Abraham?" Messages such as these were then circulated online. Facebook eventually relented and allowed him to use the name by which he is universally known.[38][39]

The Satanic Verses and the fatwā

The publication of The Satanic Verses in September 1988 caused immediate controversy in the Islamic world because of what was perceived as an irreverent depiction of the prophet Muhammad. The title refers to a disputed Muslim tradition that is related in the book. According to this tradition, Muhammad (Mahound in the book) added verses (sura) to the Qur'an accepting three goddesses who used to be worshipped in Mecca as divine beings. According to the legend, Muhammad later revoked the verses, saying the devil tempted him to utter these lines to appease the Meccans (hence the "Satanic" verses). However, the narrator reveals to the reader that these disputed verses were actually from the mouth of the Archangel Gibreel. The book was banned in many countries with large Muslim communities. (12 total: India, Bangladesh, Sudan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Thailand, Tanzania, Indonesia, Singapore, Venezuela, and Pakistan.)
On 14 February 1989, a fatwā requiring Rushdie's execution was proclaimed on Radio Tehran by Ayatollah Khomeini, the spiritual leader of Iran at the time, calling the book "blasphemous against Islam" (chapter IV of the book depicts the character of an Imam in exile who returns to incite revolt from the people of his country with no regard for their safety). A bounty was offered for Rushdie's death, and he was thus forced to live under police protection for several years. On 7 March 1989, the United Kingdom and Iran broke diplomatic relations over the Rushdie controversy.
The publication of the book and the fatwā sparked violence around the world, with bookstores firebombed. Muslim communities in several nations in the West held public rallies, burning copies of the book. Several people associated with translating or publishing the book were attacked, seriously injured, and even killed.[note 1] Many more people died in riots in some countries. Despite the danger posed by the fatwā, Rushdie made a public appearance at London's Wembley Stadium on 11 August 1993 during a concert by U2. In 2010, U2 bassist Adam Clayton recalled that "[lead vocalist] Bono had been calling Salman Rushdie from the stage every night on the Zoo TV tour. When we played Wembley, Salman showed up in person and the stadium erupted. You [could] tell from [drummer] Larry Mullen, Jr.'s face that we weren't expecting it. Salman was a regular visitor after that. He had a backstage pass and he used it as often as possible. For a man who was supposed to be in hiding, it was remarkably easy to see him around the place."[40]
On 24 September 1998, as a precondition to the restoration of diplomatic relations with Britain, the Iranian government, then headed by Mohammad Khatami, gave a public commitment that it would "neither support nor hinder assassination operations on Rushdie."[41][42]
Hardliners in Iran have continued to reaffirm the death sentence.[43] In early 2005, Khomeini's fatwā was reaffirmed by Iran's current spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in a message to Muslim pilgrims making the annual pilgrimage to Mecca.[44] Additionally, the Revolutionary Guards declared that the death sentence on him is still valid.[45] Iran rejected requests to withdraw thefatwā on the basis that only the person who issued it may withdraw it,[44] and the person who issued it – Ayatollah Khomeini – has been dead since 1989.
Rushdie has reported that he still receives a "sort of Valentine's card" from Iran each year on 14 February letting him know the country has not forgotten the vow to kill him. He said, "It's reached the point where it's a piece of rhetoric rather than a real threat."[46] Despite the threats on Rushdie, he publicly said that his family had never been threatened and that his mother (who lived inPakistan during the later years of her life) even received outpourings of support.[47]
A former bodyguard to Rushdie, Ron Evans, planned to publish a book recounting the behaviour of the author during the time he was in hiding. Evans claimed that Rushdie tried to profit financially from the fatwa and was suicidal, but Rushdie dismissed the book as a "bunch of lies" and took legal action against Evans, his co-author and their publisher.[48] On 26 August 2008, Rushdie received an apology at the High Court in London from all three parties.[49] A memoir of his years of hiding, Joseph Anton, was released on 18 September 2012. Joseph Anton was Rushdie's secret alias.[50]
In February 1997, Ayatollah Hasan Sane'i, leader of the bonyad panzdah-e khordad (Fifteenth of Khordad Foundation), reported that the blood money offered by the foundation for the assassination of Rushdie would be increased from $2 million to $2.5 million.[51] Then a semi-official religious foundation in Iran increased the reward it had offered for the killing of Rushdie from $2.8 million to $3.3 million dollars.[52]

Failed assassination attempt and Hezbollah's comments

On 3 August 1989, while Mustafa Mahmoud Mazeh was priming a book bomb loaded with RDX explosive in a hotel in Paddington, Central London, the bomb exploded prematurely, destroying two floors of the hotel and killing Mazeh. A previously unknown Lebanese group, the Organization of the Mujahidin of Islam, said he died preparing an attack "on the apostate Rushdie". There is a shrine in Tehran's Behesht-e Zahra cemetery for Mustafa Mahmoud Mazeh that says he was "Martyred in London, 3 August 1989. The first martyr to die on a mission to kill Salman Rushdie." Mazeh's mother was invited to relocate to Iran, and the Islamic World Movement of Martyrs' Commemoration built his shrine in the cemetery that holds thousands of Iranian soldiers slain in theIran–Iraq War.[41] During the 2006 Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah declared that "If there had been a Muslim to carry out Imam Khomeini'sfatwā against the renegade Salman Rushdie, this rabble who insult our Prophet Mohammed in Denmark, Norway and France would not have dared to do so. I am sure there are millions of Muslims who are ready to give their lives to defend our prophet's honour and we have to be ready to do anything for that."[53] James Phillips of the Heritage Foundation testified before the United States Congress that a "March 1989" [sic] explosion in Britain was a Hezbollah attempt to assassinate Rushdie that failed when a bomb exploded prematurely, killing a Hezbollah terrorist in London.

International Guerillas

In 1990, soon after the publication of The Satanic Verses, a Pakistani film entitled International Gorillay (International Guerillas) was released that depicted Rushdie as plotting to cause the downfall of Pakistan by opening a chain of casinos and discos in the country. The film was popular with Pakistani audiences, and it "presents Rushdie as a Rambo-like figure pursued by four Pakistani guerrillas".[54] The British Board of Film Classification refused to allow it a certificate, as "it was felt that the portrayal of Rushdie might qualify as criminal libel, causing a breach of the peace as opposed to merely tarnishing his reputation." This effectively prevented the release of the film in Britain. Two months later, however, Rushdie himself wrote to the board, saying that while he thought the film "a distorted, incompetent piece of trash", he would not sue if it were released. He later said, "If that film had been banned, it would have become the hottest video in town: everyone would have seen it". While the film was a great hit in Pakistan, it went virtually unnoticed elsewhere.[55]

2012 Jaipur Literature Festival events

Rushdie was due to appear at the Jaipur Literature Festival in January 2012.[56] However, he later cancelled, and indeed cancelled his complete tour of India citing a possible threat to his life as the primary reason.[57][58] He investigated police reports that paid assassins had been hired to kill him and suggested the police might be lying.[59]
Meanwhile, the police, on the advice of officials, sought Ruchir JoshiJeet ThayilHari Kunzru and Amitava Kumar. They fled from Jaipur after reading excerpts from The Satanic Verses at the Jaipur Literature Festival. In India the import of the book is banned via customs. However, reading from an existing copy of the book is not illegal.[60]
A proposed video link session between Rushdie and the Jaipur Literature Festival was cancelled at the last minute[61] after the government pressured the festival to stop it.[59] Rushdie returned to India to address a conference in Delhi on 16 March 2012.[62]


Rushdie was knighted for services to literature in the Queen's Birthday Honours on 16 June 2007. He remarked, "I am thrilled and humbled to receive this great honour, and am very grateful that my work has been recognised in this way."[63] In response to his knighthood, many nations with Muslim majorities protested. Parliamentarians of several of these countries condemned the action, and Iran and Pakistan called in their British envoys to protest formally. Controversial condemnation issued by Pakistan's Religious Affairs Minister Muhammad Ijaz-ul-Haq was in turn rebuffed by former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. Ironically, their respective fathers Zia-ul-Haq and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto had been earlier portrayed in Rushdie's novel Shame. Mass demonstrations against Rushdie's knighthood took place in Pakistan and Malaysia. Several called publicly for his death. Some non-Muslims expressed disappointment at Rushdie's knighthood, claiming that the writer did not merit such an honour and there were several other writers who deserved the knighthood more than Rushdie.[64]
Al-Qaeda condemned the Rushdie honour. The Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri is quoted as saying in an audio recording that Britain's award for Indian-born Rushdie was "an insult to Islam", and it was planning "a very precise response."[65]

Religious and political beliefs

Rushdie came from a Muslim family though he is an atheist now. In 1990, in the "hope that it would reduce the threat of Muslims acting on the fatwa to kill him," he issued a statement claiming he had renewed his Muslim faith, had repudiated the attacks on Islam made by characters in his novel and was committed to working for better understanding of the religion across the world. However, Rushdie later said that he was only "pretending".[66]
His books often focus on the role of religion in society and conflicts between faiths and between the religious and those of no faith.
Rushdie advocates the application of higher criticism, pioneered during the late 19th century. Rushdie called for a reform in Islam[67] in a guest opinion piece printed in The Washington Post andThe Times in mid-August 2005:
What is needed is a move beyond tradition, nothing less than a reform movement to bring the core concepts of Islam into the modern age, a Muslim Reformation to combat not only the jihadist ideologues but also the dusty, stifling seminaries of the traditionalists, throwing open the windows to let in much-needed fresh air. (...) It is high time, for starters, that Muslims were able to study the revelation of their religion as an event inside history, not supernaturally above it. (...) Broad-mindedness is related to tolerance; open-mindedness is the sibling of peace.
Rushdie supported the 1999 NATO bombing of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, leading the leftist Tariq Ali to label Rushdie and other "warrior writers" as "the belligerati'".[68] He was supportive of the US-led campaign to remove the Taliban in Afghanistan, which began in 2001, but was a vocal critic of the 2003 war in Iraq. He has stated that while there was a "case to be made for the removal of Saddam Hussein", US unilateral military intervention was unjustifiable.[69]
Paul Auster and Rushdie greeting Israeli President Shimon Peres with Caro Llewelyn in 2008.
In the wake of the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy in March 2006—which many considered an echo of the death threats and fatwāthat followed publication of The Satanic Verses in 1989—Rushdie signed the manifesto Together Facing the New Totalitarianism, a statement warning of the dangers of religious extremism. The Manifesto was published in the left-leaning French weekly Charlie Hebdo in March 2006.
In 2006, Rushdie stated that he supported comments by the then-Leader of the House of Commons Jack Straw, who criticised the wearing of the niqab(a veil that covers all of the face except the eyes). Rushdie stated that his three sisters would never wear the veil. He said, "I think the battle against the veil has been a long and continuing battle against the limitation of women, so in that sense I'm completely on Straw's side."[70]
The Marxist Catholic critic Terry Eagleton, a former admirer of Rushdie's work, attacked him for his positions, saying he "cheered on the Pentagon's criminal ventures in Iraq and Afghanistan".[71] However, Eagleton subsequently apologised for having misrepresented Rushdie's views.
At an appearance at 92nd Street Y, Rushdie expressed his view on copyright when answering a question whether he had considered copyright law a barrier (or impediment) to free speech.
No. But that's because I write for a living, [laughs] and I have no other source of income, and I naïvely believe that stuff that I create belongs to me, and that if you want it you might have to give me some cash. [...] My view is I do this for a living. The thing wouldn't exist if I didn't make it and so it belongs to me and don't steal it. You know. It's my stuff.[72]
When Amnesty International (AI) suspended human rights activist Gita Sahgal for saying to the press that she thought AI should distance itself from Moazzam Begg and his organisation, Rushdie said:
Amnesty ... has done its reputation incalculable damage by allying itself with Moazzam Begg and his group Cageprisoners, and holding them up as human rights advocates. It looks very much as if Amnesty's leadership is suffering from a kind of moral bankruptcy, and has lost the ability to distinguish right from wrong. It has greatly compounded its error by suspending the redoubtable Gita Sahgal for the crime of going public with her concerns. Gita Sahgal is a woman of immense integrity and distinction.... It is people like Gita Sahgal who are the true voices of the human rights movement; Amnesty and Begg have revealed, by their statements and actions, that they deserve our contempt.[73]
Rushdie is a supporter of gun control, blaming a shooting at a Colorado cinema in July 2012 on the American right to keep and bear arms.[74][75]

Personal life

Rushdie has been married four times. He was married to his first wife Clarissa Luard from 1976 to 1987 and fathered a son, Zafar (born 1980). His second wife was the American novelist Marianne Wiggins; they were married in 1988 and divorced in 1993. His third wife, from 1997 to 2004, was Elizabeth West; they have a son, Milan (born 1999). In 2004, he married the Indian AmericanPadma Lakshmi, an actress, model, and host of the American reality-television show Top Chef. The marriage ended on 2 July 2007, with Lakshmi's indicating it was her desire to end it. In 2008, the Bollywood press romantically linked him to his friend, Indian model Riya Sen.[76] In response to the media speculation about their relationship, she simply stated: "I think when you are Salman Rushdie, you must get bored with people who always want to talk to you about literature."[77]
In 1999, Rushdie had an operation to correct ptosis, a tendon condition that causes drooping eyelids and that, according to him, was making it increasingly difficult for him to open his eyes. "If I hadn't had an operation, in a couple of years from now I wouldn't have been able to open my eyes at all," he said.[78]
Since 2000, Rushdie has "lived mostly near Union Square" in New York City.[79]