Defiant Rushdie says he ‘didn’t write Verses for the mullahs’
Over two decades after Satanic Verses sparked a never-ending controversy and provoked a fatwa for his head, author Salman Rushdie has only one thing to say to his detractors: ‘I did not write it for the mullahs.’
The India-born controversial writer, who has lived for years under the shadow of his 1988 book, now liberally jokes about the issue.
Speaking at the Hay Festival of Literature and the Art in London, the 64-year-old Rushdie said books are intended for people who like them. Joking about the fatwa during an interaction, he said he did not write it for the mullahs.
‘I didn’t think they were my target audience. The only thing worse than a bad review from the Ayatollah Khomeini would be a good review from the Ayatollah Khomeini,’ he remarked.
The author, who is best known for his Booker-winning marvel Midnight’s Children, said a book’s popularity did not depend on people’s dislike for it or the controversy it creates.
‘The reason why books endure is because there are enough people who like them. It’s the only reason why books last. It’s the people who love books that make them last, not the people who attack them,’ he said.
Satanic Verses sparked widespread outrage among Muslims when it came out in 1988 and even led to Khomeini, the Supreme Leader of Iran, issuing a fatwa calling for Rushdie’s death in 1989.
Later in the well-attended interaction, he said: ‘I don’t read my books. Once I’ve finished the many years it usually takes me to write them, I can’t bear to read them, because I’ve spent too long with them already. I’m not advertising them very well, am I?’