Ahmed Salman Rushdie, the noted British novelist placed under a fatwa (death sentence) by Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini in 1989 for blasphemy in handling the character of the Prophet Mohammed in The Satanic Verses (1988), although born in Mumbai (Bombay, India) in 1947, moved with his family to Pakistan at the age of 17. He was educated at the Cathedral School, Bombay, and then at Rugby Boys' School, England, before attending King's College, Cambridge, from which he graduated with a B. A. in 1968. During his years of schooling in England, he experienced minor persecution and racist attacks. However, upon graduation he chose to remain in Britain, working as an actor and advertising copywriter before becoming a full-time writer, producing his first novel, Grimus, in 1975, in the tradition of James Joyce, Gunter Grass, and the South American "Magic Realists."
Although he won a certain celebrity with his second novel, the Booker prize-winning Midnight's Children (1981), an historical novel set at the moment that India and Pakistan achieved independence from Great Britain, it was the controversial Satanic Verses that made his name a household word. Its banning in India and throughout the Muslim world led to widespread demonstrations during which copies of the novel (and effigies of the author) were burned. Rushdie was forced into hiding, moving from one safehouse to another with the assistance of the British authorities and police until 1998, when Iran officially lifted the fatwa. The individual pieces in East, West Stories (1994), including the critically-celebrated, multi-voiced "CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS AND QUEEN ISABELLA OF SPAIN CONSUMMATE THEIR RELATIONSHIP (Santa Fe, A. D. 1492)," first published in the prestigious New Yorker Magazine. Dating from the same period are his children's book, Haroun and the Sea of Stories (1990), his book of essays, Imaginary Homelands (1991), and the novel The Moor's Last Sigh (1995).
The Cambridge Biographical Dictionary, ed. Magnus Magnusson and Rosemary Goring. New York: Cambridge UP, 1990. P. 1275.
Biography on A & E at http://www.biography.com/search/article/jsp?aid=9467164&search =Ahmed+Salman+Rushdie
Last modified 14 January, 2004