Salman Rushdie sheds his blood in an assassination attempt in New York

(Photo by Shutterstock).

The ghost of the past still haunts the writer who refuses to label himself a "geopolitical entity" writes Ahmad Abdul-Rahman.

Salman Rushdie is a multi-talented writer, novelist, speaker and performer. He is mobile of heart, as he has been married four times and has two sons. But what he is most known for dates back to 1989, five months after the publication of his novel "The Satanic Verses". At that time, the Iranian spiritual leader, Ayatollah Khomeini, issued his famous fatwa, causing Rushdie to live in hiding for the next 10 years.

Despite the years that have past, that chase is still going on. There was an assassination attempt in New York recently, before he started a lecture in the city where he has resided for nearly 20 years. The terrorist threat has not ended. The fatwa was nominally lifted in 1998, allowing him to move relatively freely. but a bounty of USD 6 million remained.

Rushdie has produced 20 books since 1998. In recent years, he published his book, which includes a group of articles under the title "Languages ​​of Truth", in which he defends the idea of ​​writing through his personal experience. In his literary career, he has also won many awards, most notably a Booker prize in 1981 for his novel "Midnight's Children".

Salman Rushdie has lived through periods of global tension. He was born in the same year in which his native India was divided into two countries: Pakistan and India. He arrived in Britain as a young boy aged 14, where he was forced into hiding a decade later after a fatwa was issued against him, before he resided in America. 

In several articles, he has said he does not want to talk about the personal side of his life. He also hates being labeled as a person who has had a fatwa issued against him. In Arab and Islamic countries  many associate him  specifically with his book "The Satanic Verses" and Khomeini's fatwa. However, this strips him of his literary talent, and makes him akin to a politician or a rebel rather than a real writer. He summarised this in an interview in the UK's Guardian newspaper in which he says: "This destroys my individuality as a person and as a writer. I am not a geopolitical entity."

However, geography and politics, as well as doctrine, are demonstrated in the way he speaks. In an interview with the Guardian he speaks English with a mix of Indian, English and American accents, giving him vocal and stylistic diversity. This diversity is also revealed in the themes in his books which help to make him such a powerful writer.

On 19 June 2022, Rushdie had lived 75 years, still managing to be open, progressive and left leaning. He almost preserved the topics with which he began his literary life-  issues about literature, immigration and freedom of expression.

Recently, Rushdie has been persistent in working as a resident writer at the New York University School of Journalism, defending to his students the values ​​of humanity and sharing with them the details he learned from his boyhood in Bombay. He also reflected them in the novel "Midnight's Children". 

Regardless of how Rushdie is seen, whether as a renegade or a rebel, he remains a bridge between eastern and western cultures.

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Sunday, 25 September 2022