Salman Rushdie is an Emory University professor. But he’s arguably best known for his book “Satanic Verses,” which resulted in a death sentence from an Iranian cleric. Rushdie spoke Monday in Atlanta about the death threat and a new book detailing his subsequent seclusion.
Rushdie published “The Satanic Verses” in 1988. Soon after, the Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran issued a fatwa calling for his death.
For more than a decade, the novelist lived under British police protection.
He recounts those years in a new book called “Joseph Anton,” which was his code name during the period he lived underground.
Speaking at the Atlanta Press Club, Rushdie drew a link between the threat on his life and 9-11 and other subsequent terrorist attacks.
“One of the things I came to feel very strongly even during those years and very much when I began to write the book, was that what happened to me with the case of the “Satanic Verses” so-called was a kind of harbinger of many things that came later,” he said.
Indeed following 9-11, he said many friends told him they understood his plight only after the attacks.
He said at first he was shocked.
“And then I thought, ‘Well maybe that’s right.’ Because maybe what happened on that terrible day, my story, this little story, which could be seen as a small marginal event, suddenly connected to everyone’s story," he said. "This was a part of all of our stories.”
Rushdie credited President Clinton with helping secure the lifting of the death sentence.