The Satanic Verses

by Salman Rushdie

For this choice, I wanted to present Scott with two books that are famous, important, by extremely well-regarded authors, and which I had never read in full. Either way, I would fill a serious gap in my literary exploration. Umberto Eco's Foucault's Pendulum and Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses not only both fill such a gap, but were both published in the same year: 1988.

Inspired by the life of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, The Satanic Verses' title is in reference to the "satanic verses" and the work is steeped in magical realism. It achieved wide critical acclaim. Muhammad Mashuq ibn Ally wrote that "The Satanic Verses is about identity, alienation, rootlessness, brutality, compromise, and conformity. These concepts confront all migrants, disillusioned with both cultures: the one they are in and the one they join. Yet knowing they cannot live a life of anonymity, they mediate between them both. The Satanic Verses is a reflection of the author’s dilemmas."

Extremists, egged on by Ayatollah Khomeini's declaration that Rushdie must be assassinated, have repeatedly attempted to murder the author. He was violently stabbed just this last summer in August 2022, losing an eye and the use of his hand and barely surviving. He remains to this day, 35 years later, under constant thread of murder.

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