Salman Rushdie

2003 Keynote Address

“Step Across This Line”

7:00 p.m., Thursday, April 24, 2003
Goodrich Chapel

With a keen sense of humor and a unique style of blending Western classical studies, Indian history, and pop culture, Salman Rushdie has delighted, enraged, and fascinated readers worldwide during his nearly 30-year writing career.

A native of Bombay, India, Rushdie is a second-generation Cambridge University graduate and the grandson of an Urdu poet. His first novel, Grimus, was published in 1975.

In 1981, Rushdie's critically acclaimed second novel, Midnight's Children, won the Booker Prize, Britain's top literary award. Seven years later Rushdie's fourth novel, The Satanic Verses, won the Whitbread Award and unleashed an international furor. In response to the novel's criticism of fundamentalist Islam, Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa, or religious edict, condemning Rushdie to death. Rushdie was forced into hiding for nearly 10 years, but nonetheless published two well-received novels, including The Moor's Last Sigh in 1995. He also wrote a number of essays on intellectual freedom during this period, and has continued to articulate his strong views on the subject since then. The government of Iran lifted the fatwa in 1998.

In addition to his eight novels, Rushdie has published several books of collected stories and essays, and his fiction and nonfiction have been included in numerous anthologies. His writings have been translated into more than 30 languages. Rushdie's latest book, Step Across This Line, will be the subject of his Albion presentation. A collection of his journalistic writings from 1992-2002, the book centers on themes of religion, culture, and politics in an age of rapid modernization.

Rushdie has lectured at many prestigious educational institutions, including a March 2003 visit to the University of Michigan during the North American premiere of a Royal Shakespeare Company stage adaptation of Midnight's Children. He is also an honorary professor of the humanities at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Rushdie holds an M.A. from King's College, Cambridge.

He currently lives in London and New York.