Salman Rushdie's Headshot

Salman Rushdie

- Panelist Blurb

Salman Rushdie is one of the world's most respected writers. In both fiction and non-fiction, Rushdie uses his unique upbringing and personal history to make bold statements about life on earth. His 1989 book The Satanic Verses, was a huge popular and critical success.

Rushdie's most recent book is Step Across This Line: Collected Non-fiction, 1992-2002. Among other topics, the pieces in this collection explore the reaction of the media, various governments, and the writer himself to what he calls the "unfunny Valentine" he received on February 14, 1989, from the Ayatollah Khomeini: the fatwa calling for his death.

It was while living under constant threat of violence that Rushdie produced some of the most sincere and beautiful work. The Moor's Last Sigh and Midnight's Children were especially well received, as were his frequent essays on intellectual freedom. The government of Iran lifted the fatwa in 1998.

He is, arguably, one of the most controversial writers of our time. His fourth book, The Satanic Verses, caused an international storm so loud that, for a time, it did all but obliterate the identity of the man who had written it. "Who would have thought this kind of thing?" Salman Rushdie says now of the fatwa. "That the leader of a foreign power would suddenly instruct his minions to have me killed? It would never really happen to a writer."

Salman Rushdie's works take you on a provocative journey into the world of contemporary literature, politics, culture and philosophy. Like his best-selling novels and widely acclaimed essays, Rushdie's live presentations offer a challenging and enlightening look at modern life. Charismatic, thoughtful, and direct, he is the epitome of the engaged, and engaging, public intellectual.

NOTE: Bio is as it appeared in the Forum program from November 7, 2003.