Salman Rushdie - His Voice and His Works

August 17, 2022 | Mike

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Salman Rushdie speaking at the Appel Salon.

“I have this longing for one day when I come up in front of an audience and nobody asks me that question. This is something that happened 26 years ago. I’ve had a lot of life. I was 41, now I’m 68. I’m allowed to have other subjects. So, no, fatwa, the hell with it. If somebody tried to kill me, one of us is dead.”

-Salman Rushdie on September 24, 2015 at the Appel Salon (see his comment at 1:05:11)

On Friday August 12, author Salman Rushdie was stabbed multiple times before a lecture at the Chautauqua Institution in western New York. He survived the attack, though he sustained critical injuries that will likely be life altering.

Salman Rushdie has faced threats on his life since the publication of his book The Satanic Verses in 1988. At that time, the leaders of Iran called for his killing due to the content of the book, creating a controversy around the book and the author that has never gone away. Other people connected to the book have also been the subject of assassination attempts, including the murder of Japanese translator Hitoshi Igarashi in 1991.

Rushdie has remained a staunch defender of freedom of expression, which is also a core value of Toronto Public Library, and we have had the honour and privilege of having him speak at numerous library programs. Below are some of them, along with a reading list of his essential works.

We wish Salman Rushdie well as he continues to recover. This physical attack on intellectual freedom is appalling, and TPL will continue to defend free speech in our communities and branches.

Salman Rushdie at the Appel Salon

Salman Rushdie has appeared in the Appel Salon three times since 2010 and each program is available to watch on YouTube. Find them all in our Salman Rushdie playlist.

November 24, 2010

September 24, 2015

September 21, 2017

Salman Rushdie – The Essential Reading List


The Satanic Verses

The Satanic Verses

Inspired by the life of the prophet Muhammad, Rushdie’s fourth novel received wide acclaim. Like many of his other works, the book uses elements of magical realism to tell the story of Indian immigrants living in modern-day England. It was a finalist for the 1988 Booker Prize and continues to be one of Rushdie’s most important works.

Midnight's Children

Midnight’s Children

Winner of the 1981 Booker Prize, Midnight’s Children tells the story of India’s independence through the book’s protagonist, Saleem Sinai. Saleem is born at the exact moment when India becomes an independent country and his life is forever changed by being born at this crucial moment in the history of India.

The Moor's Last Sigh

The Moor’s Last Sigh

Set in Bombay and Cochin, The Moor’s Last Sigh continues Rushdie’s pattern of writing about how historical figures and real events impact the lives of his fictional characters. In this case, the post-independence spiral of 1970s India overlaps with the story of four generations of a family. The book is narrated through the eyes of Moraes “Moor” Zogoiby, whose body ages faster than it should.

Joseph Anton

Joseph Anton: A Memoir

Joseph Anton was the pseudonym Rushdie used during the years he was in hiding – a combination of his favourite writers Joseph Conrad and Anton Chekov. In the book, he speaks about his experiences living in the aftermath of the fatwa, plus his relationships with different family members and writers.

The Enchantress of Florence

The Enchantress of Florence

A historical novel about storytellers, adventurers and travellers going between the Mughal Empire and Florence in the 16th century. Asking how much we can ever believe a story to be true, the book mixes fantasy, fable and history in a way that is vintage Rushdie.

Imaginary Homelabds

Imaginary Homelands

A mix of essays and reviews, this collection captures Rushdie’s state of mind after the fatwa and surrounding controversy.