salman rushdie, the author with a $3 million bounty on his head for his 1988 book “the satanic verses,” once received a fatwa against him before a masked assailant stabbed him to death in the neck on Friday.
The 75-year-old Indian-born author was scheduled to speak at the Chautauqua Institution in upstate New York, about 75 miles south of Buffalo, when a lone attacker stormed the stage and lightly stabbed him. after being introduced around 11 a.m. m., police said.
The attacker’s motive was not immediately clear, but Rushdie has been receiving death threats since the late 1980s after he published “The Satanic Verses,” a controversial fantasy novel that some Muslims considered blasphemy for his references to Islam.
shortly after rushdie published the novel, ayatollah khomeini, then the supreme leader of iran, issued a fatwa, or edict, against the author calling for his death in february 1989.
The novel, which centers on two protagonists who survived a plane crash after being kidnapped by two Sikh terrorists, depicts a dream one of the characters had that is considered a revisionist story of how Islam was founded, according to britannica. .
references in that section of the book, which include a fictional version of muhammad, infuriated khomeini, who announced the fatwa on iranian radio, calling for rushdie “to be killed without delay, lest anyone dare insult the sacred “. beliefs of Muslims from now on.”
After the edict, Rushdie went underground and began using the pseudonym Joseph Anton. He was placed under protection by the British government, which kept an armed security guard around the scribe from 1989 until 2002, two years after he moved to the Big Apple where he mainly lived near Union Square.
The Iranian government later lifted the fatwa, but over the past decade, the 15 Khordad Foundation, an Iran-based semi-religious organization, has placed a $3 million bounty on his head.
Rushdie has written more than a dozen books since 1981, when he first rose to fame after publishing his Booker Prize-winning tome “Midnight’s Children.”
Although many of Rushdie’s books have magical or surreal themes, he has also published four nonfiction works, including a memoir and a book of essays.
His most recently published book, “quichotte,” was published in 2019 and centers on a TV-obsessed salesman who falls for a TV star. He plans to publish another novel, “City of Victory”, in 2023.
Rushdie’s work has garnered a number of awards and honors over the years, including the Whitbread Award for Best Novel, which he won twice, and the James Tait Black Award.
He is an honorary professor of humanities at mit and has honorary doctorates and fellowships at six european and six american universities.
Married four times, the 75-year-old has earned a reputation while in hiding as a womanizer who dates young women, even appearing in an episode of Larry David’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm” about women who wanted to have “fatwa sex” with him.
in the episode, which is fictional, david was given a fatwa after mocking the ayatollah and rushdie offered him some advice on how to deal with it, explaining some of the benefits, including how women find men with fatwas. on them irresistible.
Of Rushdie’s four wives, three married him while the fatwa was still hanging over his life.
After his marriage to his first wife, Clarissa Luard, failed in 1987, he married American novelist Marianne Wiggins the following year, only to divorce while Rushdie was still in hiding in 1993.
in 1997, he was linked to elizabeth west and in 2004 he married padma lakshmi, an indian-american model, actress and host of the reality show “top chef”.
like all of rushdie’s previous marriages, the love did not last long and the two separated in 2007.
in 2016, lakshmi opened up about her marriage to rushdie in an interview with people while promoting her memoir “love, loss and what we ate”.
“Imagine a young woman in her twenties, who loves books and had her little cookbook published, and this guy shows up,” she told the magazine.
“I mean, he was the best thing that ever happened to me. The fact that someone of that stature and caliber was interested enough in me to want to buy me lunch was amazing.”
lakshmi said the spark faded when she started to get more famous and she couldn’t spend as much time with rushdie, nor could she have sex with him due to her endometrial condition.
“I think salman took it personally and I think he felt rejected,” lakshmi said.
Throughout their marriages and divorces, news of Rushdie’s many female friends has been a mainstay in the gossip columns. Most recently, he was linked to Rachel Eliza Griffiths, a poet and artist some 30 years his junior.