Subscribe to The Atlantic and get 2 free issues

The Disappeared

The author of The Satanic Verses on the fatwa issued against him in 1989 by Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini:

"At the CBS offices, he was the big story of the day. People in the newsroom and on various monitors were already using the word that would soon be hung around his neck like a millstone. 'Fatwa.'

"Somebody gave him a printout of the text as he was escorted to the studio for his interview. His old self wanted to argue with the word 'sentenced.' This was not a sentence handed down by any court that he recognized, or that had any jurisdiction over him. But he also knew that his old self’s habits were of no use anymore. He was a new self now. He was the person in the eye of the storm, no longer the Salman his friends knew but the Rushdie who was the author of 'Satanic Verses,' a title that had been subtly distorted by the omission of the initial 'The.' 'The Satanic Verses' was a novel. 'Satanic Verses' were verses that were satanic, and he was their satanic author. How easy it was to erase a man’s past and to construct a new version of him, an overwhelming version, against which it seemed impossible to fight."
SOURCE:New Yorker
PUBLISHED: Sept. 9, 2012
LENGTH: 51 minutes (12867 words)