Rushdie: the fatwa and me

 

The New Yorker has an exclusive extract from Salman Rushdie's forthcoming memoir. Here's a teaser: "He needed a name, the police told him in Wales. His own name was useless; it was a name that could not be spoken, like Voldemort in the not yet written Harry Potter books. He could not rent a house with it, or register to vote, because to vote you needed to provide a home address and that, of course, was impossible. To protect his democratic right to free expression, he had to surrender his democratic right to choose his government.

He needed to choose a new name “pretty pronto,” and then talk to his bank manager and get the bank to agree to accept checks signed with the false name, so that he could pay for things without being identified. The new name was also for the benefit of his protectors. They needed to get used to it, to call him by it at all times, when they were with him and when they weren’t, so that they didn’t accidentally let his real name slip when they were walking or running or going to the gym or the supermarket and blow his cover."

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