Throughout his long, esteemed career, writer Salman Rushdie has embodied the spirit of the maverick, creating works as he chooses, telling the truth as he sees it, always conscious of his role as an artist. Born in Bombay just months before India's independence in 1947, Rushdie is the acclaimed author of numerous novels (Midnight's Children, The Satanic Verses, and Shalimar the Clown), and four non-fiction works, the most prominent of which is the recently published memoir Joseph Anton. In 1981, Midnight's Children received the Booker Prize and subsequently was awarded the "Best of the Boooker" for the best novel to have won the prize in the competition's first 40 years.
Although always well regarded, he became the unwanted focus of world-wide attention when, in 1988, his The Satanic Verses so enraged Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini that a fatwah was declared on Rushdie, offering a reward for his death.
Rushdie then spent more than a decade in hiding, constantly surrounded by bodyguards and adopting a new identity as Joseph Anton (the first names of writers Conrad and Chekov). Most of those years he lived in painful isolation from friends and family, changing residences often. Though the enforced seclusion proved to be hellish, his voice for literary freedom never wavered. In a 1991 speech, given at a Columbia University dinner to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the First Amendment, Rushdie eloquently expressed the vitally important role of the artist. "You must decide what a man's conscience and heart and soul are worth. You must decide what you think a writer is worth, what value you place on a maker of stories, and an arguer with the world." Ultimately he would draw on his nightmarishly surreal experience to create his brilliant autobiographical memoir, Joseph Anton.