The Rushdie Letters: Freedom to Speak, Freedom to Write

Overview


In February 1989 Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini of Iran announced that Salman Rushdie, author of The Satanic Verses, and "all involved in its publication who were aware of its content, are sentenced to death." Anyone who died in the cause of killing Rushdie, he said, would be "regarded as a martyr and go directly to heaven." 

The death sentence—or fatwa—quickly drew blood. Bookshops in London, Oslo, and Sydney were firebombed. Five people were killed and a hundred wounded ...

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Overview


In February 1989 Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini of Iran announced that Salman Rushdie, author of The Satanic Verses, and "all involved in its publication who were aware of its content, are sentenced to death." Anyone who died in the cause of killing Rushdie, he said, would be "regarded as a martyr and go directly to heaven." 

The death sentence—or fatwa—quickly drew blood. Bookshops in London, Oslo, and Sydney were firebombed. Five people were killed and a hundred wounded when demonstrators attacked the U. S. embassy in Islamabad. In Bombay, twelve rioters were shot dead. The Italian translator of The Satanic Verses was stabbed viciously and the Japanese translator was stabbed to death. In Berkeley, bombs were thrown in Cody’s Bookstore and Waldenbooks. Fifth Avenue in New York was sealed off after a bookshop received a bomb threat.

In The Rushdie Letters twenty-six internationally renowned authors respond to the most extreme example of censorship in modern times. Also included is Rushdie’s reply to their letters, his essay on exile, "One Thousand Days in a Balloon," and a chronology of the fatwa.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
In the four years since Ayatollah Khomeini issued a death sentence on Salman Rushdie and those associated with the publication of The Satanic Verses , numerous attempts have been made by writers and by Rushdie himself to repeal this edict. MacDonogh's collection joins Daniel Pipes's The Rushdie Affair LJ 4/1/90; The Rushdie File LJ 3/1/90, edited by Lisa Appignanesi and Sarah Maitland; and Malise Ruthven's A Satanic Affair Chatto & Windus, 1990 as another plea on Rushdie's behalf. An opening essay in which the exiled author likens his fate to ``1000 days in a balloon'' is followed by 25 letters expressing solidarity, compassion, and anger. Iranian writer Fahimeh Farsaie chides Rushdie for ignoring fellow writers who have faced exile and death at the hands of political regimes. A final section contains Rushdie's reply and a chronology of the fatwa. Unfortunately, these letters will likely have more appeal as a cultural artifact than as a political document. Recommended for those libraries that own the above books on Rushdie.-- Henry L. Carrigan Jr., Westerville P.L., Ohio
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780803281981
  • Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
  • Publication date: 2/28/1993
  • Series: Stages Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 190
  • Product dimensions: 5.54 (w) x 8.96 (h) x 0.59 (d)

Meet the Author


Steve MacDonogh is a writer and editorial director of Brandon Book Publishers, Ltd., in Ireland. Article 19, the International Centre Against Censorship, works to oppose censorship worldwide.
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Table of Contents

Introduction 9
Salman Rushdie: One Thousand Days in a Balloon 13
Letters to Salman Rushdie 25
Gunter Grass 27
Paul Theroux 31
Arnold Wesker 35
Margaret Atwood 39
Nadine Gordimer 43
Jatinder Verma 47
Peter Carey 51
Fahimeh Farsaie 55
Jose Saramago 59
Graham Swift 63
William Styron 65
Dermot Bolger 69
Norman Mailer 73
Elfriede Jelinek 75
Kazuo Ishiguro 79
Johannes Mario Simmel 81
Ralph Giordano 87
Pierre Guyotat 91
Avraham B. Yehoshua 93
Mario Vargas Llosa 95
Andrzej Szczypiorski 99
Gertrud Seehaus 103
Dragan Velikic 107
Joachim Walther 111
Lev Kopalev 115
Tom Stoppard: On the third anniversary of the fatwa 117
Salman Rushdie: Reply 121
Carmel Bedford: Fiction, Fact and the Fatwa 125
About the authors 184
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