This just in

On Yale & Yale alumni.
Ico print Print | Ico email Email | Facebook | | RSS

Rushdie on surviving fatwa, Twitter

In a 1990 action-film version of Salman Rushdie's life under fatwa, he lived in a palace in what may have been the Philippines, protected by what looked like the Israeli secret service. He spent his days drinking from a whiskey bottle and cracking a whip. Though many were captured or killed in the attempt to defeat him, what eventually killed him were lightning bolts from flying Qurans.

As the real Salman Rushdie explained yesterday at the Yale University Art Gallery, in a conversation hosted by the Politic and the MacMillan Center, he himself wrote a letter to the British Board of Film Classification, urging that they allow the propaganda film to be shown in Britain. Motivated by a hatred of censorship, he formally relinquished his right to sue the filmmakers, or the film board, for defamation. The film was allowed a screening. No one attended.

The novelist called this one of his favorite parables about upholding free speech: “Reprehensible ideas do not disappear because you forbid their expression.” On the other hand, making the film widely available meant that the public soon discovered that it was a “crap” movie, and didn't go to see it.

Among other topics, Rushdie discussed his actual life under fatwa, his autobiographical novel Joseph Anton, and the movie version of Midnight's Children,for which he wrote the screenplay.

Rushdie said of his work with director Deepa Mehta: “We had a nearly telepathic knowledge of what each other was trying to do.”

Not all of his forays into new forms have been quite so successful—namely the author's “brief marriage” with Twitter. While he admired the speedy exchanges of information, he was less impressed with the constraints of the 140-character limit. His quality of life, with social media removed, has markedly improved.

“It feels like giving up smoking,” Rushdie joked. “I feel healthier.”

Filed under Salman Rushdie, Twitter
The comment period has expired.