Salman Rushdie


19 June: Born in Bombay, India. The Rushdies were wealthy, and Salman and his three sisters had a sheltered and privileged childhood; he never saw the misery or the thousands of homeless people who slept in the streets of Bombay every night. Instead, most of his time as a child was spent in the world of Aladdin, Sinbad the Sailor, and the flying carpets of his favorite book, Arabian Nights.


Sent to England, to school at Rugby. It is a shock for him to find that he is considered an outsider at school, a "wog," an inferior. He is treated with hostility by both students and teachers and is often excluded from social activities.


Returns to Pakistan, where his parents had moved while he was in school.

Decides to return to England to school at Cambridge, where he'd won a scholarship.


Receives an MA in history with honors. Returns to his family's home in Karachi.

Begins working at a television station, whose constant censorship frustrates him.


Returns to London. Begins work as a free-lance advertising copywriter.

Meets and marries Clarissa Luard, which makes him a British subject.


Grimus, his first novel, receives very bad reviews.


Quits work as a copywriter after finishing Midnight's Children, but before finding a publisher for it.


Midnight's Children




Divorces from Clarissa.


The Satanic Verses earns widespread critical praise, establishing Rushdie as a leading member of the London intelligentsia.

Marries Marianne Wiggins.


Iranian Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issues a "fatwa," or religious teaching, sentencing not only Rushdie, but also all of the publishers and translators of The Satanic Verses, to death. He calls on "all zealous Muslims to execute them quickly, wherever they may find them, so that no one will dare to insult the Islamic sanctions. Whoever is killed on this path will be regarded as a martyr, God willing."

Rushdie immediately enters into hiding in London. Bounties, which quickly rise to number in millions, are placed on his head for this blasphemy against Islam. Rushdie lives under constant police protection, and all his public appearances take place only with the highest security.


Haroun and the Sea of Stories. Rushdie still in hiding.


Divorces Marianne.


The Moor's Last Sigh. Rushdie still in hiding.


Marries Elizabeth West.


The Ground Beneath Her Feet. Rushdie still in hiding, but restrictions are beginning to be loosened.




Divorces Elizabeth.

Marries the Indian American actress and model Padma Lakshmi, the host of the American reality-television show Top Chef.


Shalimar The Clown


Padma divorces him.

Rushdie is knighted, which causes a furor in many Muslim countries.


The Enchantress of Florence


Luka and the Fire of Life


But love is what we want, not freedom. Who then is the unluckier man? The beloved, who is given his heart's desire and must for ever after fear its loss, or the free man, with his unlooked-for liberty, naked and alone between the captive armies of the earth?