PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — World-renowned author Sir Salman Rushdie will give a lecture at Brown University titled “Public Events, Private Lives: Literature and Politics in the Modern World” on Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2010, at 5:30 p.m. Doors will open at 4:30 p.m. Free and open to the public, the lecture will be held in Salomon Center, DeCiccio Family Auditorium, on the College Green. After his lecture, Rushdie will answer questions from the audience.
This event is sponsored jointly by the Year of India, the Cogut Center for the Humanities, and the Watson Institute for International Studies.
Both a pop culture icon and a provocative proponent of free speech, the Indian-born British writer was named one of the world’s top 100 public intellectuals by Foreign Policy magazine in 2005. He received a Queen’s Knighthood for services to literature in 2007.
“Rushdie is among the most impressive commitments of literary intelligence to Indian materials,” said Ashutosh Varshney, professor of political science at Brown. “He has also imaginatively straddled India and the world. ... One should note the extraordinary political courage that his life as a writer has come to exemplify.” Varshney co-edited the 2009 essay collection Midnight’s Diaspora: Encounters with Salman Rushdie.
Rushdie’s 1988 novel, The Satanic Verses, was highly controversial and was banned in several Islamic countries for what was perceived as a blasphemous depiction of Mohammed. The book prompted Iran’s Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to issue a fatwa against Rushdie, who subsequently spent several years in hiding.
Rushdie’s best-known novels include Midnight’s Children, for which he received the Booker Prize and The Best of the Booker; The Moor’s Last Sigh (1995); The Ground Beneath Her Feet (1999); and The Enchantress of Florence (2008).
In addition to the Booker Prize and “Booker of Bookers” (for the best of the first 25 Booker Prize winners), his work has earned such literary awards as the Whitbread Prize, the Writer’s Guild Award, the European Union’s Aristeion Prize, and major literary awards in Germany, France, Italy, Austria, and Hungary.
Rushdie has served as president, honorary vice-president, and member trustee-at-large of the PEN American Center, the U.S. branch of the world’s oldest international literary and human rights organization. Founded in 1922, it is the largest of the 144 PEN centers in 101 countries that together compose International PEN.
Year of India
Throughout the 2009-10 academic year, Brown is hosting a series of events to advance understanding of India’s people, culture, economy, and politics, and their growing impact around the world. See the Year of India Web site for a list of upcoming events. Varshney spoke about Rushdie’s work in a May 2009 interview online at the Indian Express. View this event on Facebook.