Legendary Author Salman Rushdie
On India’s History & the Midnight’s Children Movie
From Allen Ginsberg and Arthur Miller to Jon Krakauer and Stephen King, I’ve had the chance to interview some seriously influential authors over the course of my career. But never have I interviewed one as divisive as Salman Rushdie, who recently granted us a 1-on-1 interview to promote the new Midnight’s Children movie, an artful adaptation (from Oscar-nominated director Deepa Mehta) of his breakthrough novel.
Born Ahmed Salman Rushdie in Bombay, India in 1947 into a Muslim family of Kashmiri descent, he started his career as an ad copywriter before becoming a full-time author after his second novel, Midnight’s Children, won the Booker Prize for its unique combination of historical fiction and magical realism.
Of course, Rushdie ultimately became best known for his 1988 novel, The Satanic Verses, which sparked violent protests from Muslims incensed by the creative license the author took in his novel based on the life of the prophet Muhammad. Outraged by blasphemy and a perceived mocking of the Muslim faith, a fatwā calling for Rushdie’s death was issued by Iran’s Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in 1989.
For over a decade now, Rushdie has lived in the United States, serving since 2007 as Emory University’s Distinguished Writer in Residence in our hometown of Atlanta. He’s been busy writing, working on a sci-fi series for Showtime (which he told me may or may not come to fruition) and releasing Joseph Anton: A Memoir, which details his life during the Satanic Verses fatwā. He also wrote and executive produced the Midnight’s Children movie.
The semi-autobiographical story, which was loosely based on Rushdie’s childhood, deals with India’s rough transition from British colonial to independence, and the extremely bloody partition of the nation. We were delighted to sit down with the knighted author to discuss the new film adaptation, India’s evolution, and the lasting impact the end of the colonial era had on his homeland.