Rushdie: how the fatwa made me a much nicer man
Author admits he nearly gave up writing during 10 years in isolation – but he emerged stronger and with a new zest for life
Sunday 04 May 2008
Sir Salman Rushdie has confessed how he emerged a better person after being under a fatwa that saw him live a life in virtual seclusion for almost a decade.
In 1989, Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini issued the author with a death warrant over alleged blasphemy against the Prophet Mohamed in his novel The Satanic Verses. In a revelatory encounter with clinical psychologist Pamela Connolly, to be shown on Channel 4 later this month, the author claims the decision ultimately helped him become more self-aware. He recalls how he reached rock bottom when the fatwa was declared and says that it "erased" his personality.
The persecution almost drove him to stop writing altogether, he claims: "It's the only time in my life that I ever really thought, if this is what you get for writing, then why do it?"
Speaking during a session with Dr Connolly for the Shrink Rap series, which has seen celebrities submit to what amounts to a televised therapy session, Rushdie admits he was "deranged" when claiming to be a Muslim in an attempt to deal with the pressures of the fatwa and "that's the moment at which I hit bottom".
He adds: "After that, it cleared things up in my head... I stopped being the prisoner of that thing, because I thought, OK, there are people who are not going to like me and do you know what? I don't like them."
The author also reveals how he suffered during his time at Rugby public school. In a scathing aside, he says, "I was clever, and I was foreign, and I was bad at games, and these are the three mistakes at an English boarding school."
Everyone now knows his views on marriage. In an interview with the writer Kathy Lette for Elle magazine, Rushdie proclaimed: "I've been married four times, but I actually don't think marriage is necessary. Girls like it – it's the dress."
He seems to be enjoying being single since his divorce from Indian actress Padma Lakshmi. This week he was seen nuzzling actress Scarlett Johansson in the video for her debut single. He was photographed 10 days ago at the White House Correspondents' Association dinner in Washington DC on the arm of statuesque brunette actress Olivia Wilde, 24.
tv Jenny Lee may have left, but Miranda Hart and the rest of the midwives deliver the goods
Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites
TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Christmas comes early to Hong Kong, as millions of bank notes spill out onto busy street
- 2 The 'Black Museum': After 150 years, public can visit police’s grisly crime museum
- 3 British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
- 4 Vagina canoe artist facing two years in jail defends herself over ‘obscenity’ charges
- 5 The Queen’s speech 2014: Recap and Twitter reaction to Game of Thrones reference
Felicity Jones on being Stephen Hawking's wife in The Theory of Everything: 'I didn't want her to be a saint'
EastEnders Christmas Day special, TV review: It's all about the Carters this Christmas - and Danny Dyer is brilliant
Game of Thrones season five: First preview clip shows a beardy Tyrion, a moody Cersei and a distressed Arya
Doctor Who: Jenna Coleman to stay on as Peter Capaldi’s assistant Clara Oswald in next series
The Interview finally gets US release after Sony hack and terror threats – but reviews of North Korea satire are mixed
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
BBC director Danny Cohen: Rising UK antisemitism makes me feel more uncomfortable than ever
Alex Salmond has 'broken his word to the Scottish people' says Scottish Lib Dem leader