Rushdie to pen book about decade in hiding

2010-02-24 09:30

NOVELIST Salman Rushdie said he plans to write a book about his

decade in hiding under a death threat from the Iranian government.

Rushdie discussed the planned book yesterday at Emory University,

where an exhibit of the author’s personal papers opens on Friday.

He donated manuscripts, letters and photos to the school, which

catalogued them and transferred them to digital form.

“It’s my story, and at some point, it needs to be told,” he said

during a news conference before touring the exhibit with reporters.

“That point is getting closer, I think. When it was in cardboard

boxes and dead computers, it would have been very, very difficult, but now it’s

all organized.”

Rushdie, 62, was forced into hiding in Britain for a decade because

the Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran issued a 1989 fatwa, or religious edict, ordering

Muslims to kill the author, saying his book, “The Satanic Verses,” insulted

Islam.

The Iranian government declared in 1998 that it would not support

the fatwa but could not rescind it.

Still, some hardline Muslim groups have protested Rushdie in recent

years and threatened to boycott organizations that are associated with him.

Rushdie has said the fatwa is more “a piece of rhetoric than a real

threat” now.

Rushdie in 2006 gave Emory the collection of manuscripts from many

of his novels, unpublished works, photos of him as a child and letters from

public figures supporting him after the fatwa was issued.

The archive will be open to the public.

Some of the items are being displayed in the exhibit, which runs

through September. One wall is filled with Post-It notes he wrote while working

on novels.

“I never realized my doodles would have been blown up to 3 feet (90

centimeters) tall,” he said. “From the moment I agreed to do this, I knew it was

going to be sort of embarrassing.”

The India native is in the middle of a five-year stint as a

distinguished lecturer at Emory.

“You get to sit in a room with intelligent, young people and talk

about books you like. What’s wrong with that?” he said of the experience.

Rushdie’s novel Midnight’s Children won Britain’s Booker Prize, and

was selected in 1993 as the best novel in 25 years of the Booker Prize.

He was knighted in 2007 by Queen Elizabeth II of England, the same

year he divorced model and Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi after three years of

marriage.

He lives most of the year in Britain, where he is a citizen.

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