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March 3, 2005

Author Salman Rushdie to speak at MSU

Contact: Kim Allan, James Madison College, (517) 353-3381; or Gisgie D�vila Gendreau, University Relations, (517) 432-0924 or


EAST LANSING, Mich. � Salman Rushdie, best known as the author of �Midnight�s Children� and �The Satanic Verses,� will speak about his experiences on Thursday, March 17, as part of the World View � The Lecture Series at Michigan State University�s Wharton Center.

Rushdie lived in exile under constant threat of death after Iran�s Ayatollah Khomeini deemed his �Verses� work sacrilegious and brought him under a fatwa, or religious ruling, in 1989. His most recent book, �Step Across This Line: Collected Non-Fiction, 1992-2002,� explores his own reaction to the fatwa, as well as those of the media and various governments.

Rushdie, who was born in India, gained international fame after penning �Midnight�s Children� in 1981 for which he was awarded the Booker Prize. His fourth novel, �Verses,� won him the Whitbread Award in 1988. Soon after, Khomeini called for Rushdie�s death for allegedly blaspheming Islam and the author was forced to go underground.

He has since come out of hiding, including giving a talk at the University of Colorado in February. His visit to MSU coincides with James Madison College�s freshman class reading and discussion of his �Midnight�s Children.� Rushdie will hold a book-discussion session for students before the lecture.

The university welcomes differing viewpoints and provides opportunities for them on campus, said James Madison Dean Sherman Garnett. It is part of MSU�s mission to educate and prepare students to be residents of the world, he added.

Works by Rushdie, one of the leading novelists in the world today, touch on topics as diverse as a multi-ethnic India to life in New York, Garnett said, and his work should be open to discussion.

�The university is a marketplace of ideas,� he said. �There is room at MSU for a wide range of political views and ideas to be heard and discussed.

�The university cannot be hermetically sealed from often passionate discussions about belief and unbelief, religion and alternatives to religion. And even though such discussions can generate controversy, and even potentially offense, they take place on this campus � and need to.�

Tickets for the 7:30 p.m. lecture are free for MSU students, faculty and staff; and $20 for the general public. Reserved tickets must be picked up in advance of the lecture at the Wharton Center Box Office, or may be purchased on the day of the event. For tickets, call (800) WHARTON.

Wharton Center�s World View Lecture Series brings renowned leaders and thinkers to mid-Michigan and is part of MSU�s sesquicentennial celebration, honoring 150 years of higher learning. Past World View Lecturers include Ambassador Paul Bremer, presidential envoy to Iraq and administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority, and Tony and Emmy winner Twyla Tharp.

Rushdie�s visit is sponsored by TIAA-CREF, James Madison College, the Office of the Provost, the Office of Assistant Provost for Undergraduate Education, Honors College, and The LeFrak Forum/Symposium on Science, Reason and Modern Democracy.

[Editors Note: For MSU experts available to speak on Rushdie�s work and Islam, contact University Relations at (517) 355-2281 or visit]