Salman Rushdie (1947– ) is arguably the most important British novelist of the last quarter century. Known to most as the author of The Satanic Verses (1988) and the target of a death sentence by Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeni. Rushdie was born in Bombay and raised in a nonobservant Muslim family. He was educated in England, at Rugby and Cambridge, and earned an M.A. in history. He enjoyed some success with his first novel, Grimus (1975), but it was Midnight’s Children (1981) that established his reputation. In Midnight’s Children, Rushdie tells the story of Saleem Sinai, born at midnight on August 15, 1947—the very moment of India’s independence from England. Though known for its exploration of Indian history, the work should also be recognized for its boundless humor and energy. Rushdie’s mastery of the novelistic tradition is evident throughout the work, and even the briefest list of his literary influences would have to include writers from Laurence Sterne to the Latin American magical realists of the1960s and 1970s. Since Midnight’s Children, Rushdie has published a volume of short stories, a book for children, and six novels, including Shame (1983), The Satanic Verses, The Moor’s Last Sigh (1995), and Shalimar the Clown (2005).
[Courtesy: Professor Timothy Spurgin]