As the world awaits the highly anticipated memoirs of Salman Rushdie, Iranian newspapers are reporting that a religious foundation has increased a reward for killing the British author. Its been 23 years since the death decree was issued out of Iran, and Rushdie is still alive. This has angered Islamic extremists as year after year they increase the bounty on his head.
Iranian media quoted Hassan Sane’i, a cleric heading the 15 of Khordad Foundation, as saying in a statement that he was “adding another USD 500,000 to the reward for killing Rushdie.”
With the increase, the foundation was now offering USD 3.3 million for the death of Rushdie, who since 1989 has been the target of a Iranian fatwa calling for his murder for allegedly blaspheming Islam in his book “The Satanic Verses.”
When the fatwa was first issued by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini 1989, Rushdie was forced to live in hiding under police protection as the publication sparked violent protests all over the Islamic world. But despite riots and protest, in 1993 Rushdie temporarily came out of hiding to make a public appearance at London’s Wembley Stadium according to Q Magazine.
This newest reaffirmation to continue and increase the bounty on Rushdie, is not new, in fact, according to meforum.org has continued since the Khomeini’s death.
After years of living under this threat, Rushdie has managed to come out of hiding and live a semi normal life.
When writer Salman Rushdie launches his long-awaited autobiographical work, his years of hiding will be one of the most anticipated chapters of the book.
In fact, the title of the work, that speaks of the 10 years he spent underground, is drawn from the first names of two of his favorite writers Joseph Conrad and Anton Chekhov, and refers to the alias he was forced to adopt after Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini issued a death sentence, because his novel The Satanic Verses was accused of being “against Islam, the Prophet and the Qu’ran”.
After Ron Evans, a former police officer who was part of the team protecting Rushdie, included false accounts in a book about the author’s time under police protection, Rushdie decided he’d narrate the tale himself.
Rushdie believes memory is selective. He wrote in his 1980 novel Midnight’s Children, which is now a Deepa Mehta film, “Memory has its own special kind. It selects, eliminates, alters, exaggerates, minimises, glorifies, and vilifies also.” Rushdie has admitted he couldn’t have managed the memoir without help from technology, and Emory University.
One of the world’s leading research universities, the Atlanta-based institution’s president James Wagner invited the author to entrust his literary records spanning 40 years, stuffed in hundred of boxes, to Emory. Farr, coordinator of the digital archives at Emory’s Manuscript, Archives and Rare Book Library (MARBL), worked at digitising, cataloguing and archiving material derived from floppy disks, scribbles, doodles, faded faxes and discarded drafts.
This turned into a priceless database for Rushdie, each time he wished to dip into the past via a master index, while writing his memoir. It left “My life with barcodes” which “feels like undressing in public” but also “allowed me to write the memoir”, he said in an interview to Farr.
We spoke to Farr about making sense of scribbles by one of the most important contemporary writers. Excerpts from a telephonic interview:
Rushdie said he handed over nearly 100 cardboard boxes of discarded ideas and drafts. What was the first thing that struck you when you received the material?
Besides the gravity of the material, what struck us is how inquisitive and playful he is. We got a nice variety of illustrations, records of brainstorming sessions and written information. Some of his computers were very old, mid ’90s Macs, with rudimentary drawing applications. And you could see that he would illustrate through them or play basic games. One of the applications in the archive functions as a sort of computer within a computer — to see what Rushdie’s computer would have been like, and play around in it. Researchers are able to feel that experience.
What were the challenges of cataloguing this vast a body of information? Rushdie says, ironically, it was the digital data holders, such as floppies, that posed the biggest problem.