Salman Rushdie crafting memoir, recalls years in hiding

October 21, 2010

[ChattahBox] – Bringing news of what may become the most anticipated and divisive volume in modern publishing history, Random House has just announced they’ve acquired the worldwide rights to Salman Rushdie’s memoirs.

Born in Bombay, India the now 63-year old author has published just over a dozen books since his debut work ‘Grimus’ in 1975. The next book, 1981’s ‘Midnight’s Children’ drew plaudits for its blend of realism and historical fiction and won Rushdie the Booker Prize. But his fourth novel nearly summoned his doom.

Published in 1988 ‘The Satanic Verses’ caused worldwide uproar among Muslims and Rushdie received countless death threats. Then on February 24 of 1989 Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini declared him the focus of a global, irrevocable death sentence – a fatwa.

Almost overnight Rushdie vanished.

For nine long years he survived in the shadows. His 1998 egress was inspired only after Iran’s new leader, Ayatollah Khatami announced that Iran would “neither support nor hinder assassination operations,” which many perceived as a transfigured clemency.

But Iranian hardliners have rejected all efforts to get the fatwa revoked, saying only he who declared it can cause its withdrawal – and Khomeini died on June 4th 1989. So the order remains.

Today, the man whom the London Times lists as 13th on their list of ‘The 50 Greatest British Writers since 1945,’ is hard at work on his most personal novel. Due in mid-2012 the memoir is expected to focus on his time in hiding and the author feels the experience could be deeply cathartic.

“I’m not getting churned up and upset, I’m just writing it and I’m feeling quite pleased to be writing it,” he tells MSNBC. “There being a kind of information vacuum allows people to speculate or invent maliciously, and that has been a little frustrating. But until quite recently I was not ready to write this book.”

And the result should be easy to find; Calling it “One of the most far-reaching book deals by one publisher for a single title,” Random House has just secured the hardcover, paperback, audio and e-book rights for editions in English, German and Spanish from Salman’s agent, Andrew Wylie.

“This extraordinary work merits an extraordinary publishing effort on our part,” Markus Dohle, chairman and CEO of Random House told reporters.

And that is clearly their plan – The book will be released simultaneously in print, digital and audio formats in the US, Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India and South Africa.

A German translation will make its synchronous debut in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, while Spanish versions will enamor readers in Spain, Argentina, Mexico, Colombia, Chile, Venezuela, and Uruguay.

In further proof of the prodigious gift for textual creativity that was justly acknowledged by his Knighthood in 2007, Mr. Rushdie has just published a children’s story “Luka and the Fire of Life,” and is now adapting “Midnight’s Children” into a movie, to be directed by the highly regarded Indian auteur, Deepa Mehta…


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