Sunday, Apr 20, 2008 <(Reuters) - British author Salman Rushdie, 60, says that time is running out, and with only a handful of books left in him he is choosing his subjects carefully.
His 10th novel, "The Enchantress of Florence", was published earlier this month.
Rushdie is best known for his novel "The Satanic Verses," which outraged many Muslims and prompted death threats that forced him to live in hiding for nine years.
Here are some facts about Rushdie:
* EARLY LIFE:
-- Salman Rushdie was born to Muslim parents in Mumbai (Bombay) in June 1947, two months before Indian independence led to the creation of Pakistan as a separate Muslim state.
-- At 13 he was sent to Rugby, a private school in England. There he says he first encountered racism and was rejected by his peers despite his academic prowess. His essays were torn up and slogans were daubed on walls.
-- In 1965 he went to King's College, Cambridge to read history. After graduating, he went to Pakistan and lived with his family who had moved there in 1964. He worked briefly in television there before returning to Britain and working as a copywriter for an advertising agency. His first novel, "Grimus", was published in 1975.
* FAME AND INFAMY:
-- Rushdie shot to fame in 1981 when his second novel, "Midnight's Children," a magical-realist exploration of Indian history, won the Booker Prize for Fiction. In 1993 the novel was judged to have been the "Booker of Bookers", the best novel to have won the prize in the award's 25-year history.
-- "The Satanic Verses", which won him worldwide notoriety when it appeared in 1988, is an allegorical fantasy about the struggle between good and evil, a surrealist journey by an Asian immigrant into an alien Western environment which questions the tenets of Islam.
-- Book burnings, riots across the Muslim world and calls for the novel to be banned culminated on February 14, 1989 in a death edict, or fatwa, proclaimed against Rushdie by Iran's supreme religious leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who deemed the book blasphemous to Islam.
-- Rushdie went into hiding for nine years. In 1998 the Iranian government formally distanced itself from the death edict, but hardline groups in Iran regularly renew the call for his murder, saying Khomeini's fatwa is irrevocable.
* MORE CONTROVERSY:
-- In 2007 Britain awarded Rushdie a knighthood, defending its decision when some Muslims complained that honouring the author of "The Satanic Verses" was offensive to Islam.
-- The knighthood, for services to literature, prompted diplomatic protests from Pakistan and Iran and demonstrations in Pakistan and Malaysia.
* LATEST WORK:
-- His new novel, "The Enchantress of Florence", is an historical novel set in Renaissance Florence and the court of the Mughal Empire in India. It follows a woman trying to command her own destiny in a man's world. Rushdie's previous novel "Shalimar the Clown" was published in 2005.
(Writing by David Cutler)