Sir Ahmed Salman Rushdie, perhaps the most controversial novelist of his time, was born on 19 June 1947 in Mumbai, India. Typically set on the Indian subcontinent and primarily dealing with connections, disruptions and migrations between Eastern and Western cultures, his works often combine magical realism with historical fiction. He was awarded the Booker Prize in 1981 for his second novel, Midnight’s Children and after the publication of his fourth novel, The Satanic Verses, he earned the wrath of the Muslim extremists, when Sayyid Ruhollah Musavi Khomeini, better known as Ayatollah Khomeini, issued a fatwa calling for his assassination, alleged for committing blasphemy against Islam. As a result, the book was banned in several countries and Rushdie went into hiding under the protection of Scotland Yard. Although he occasionally emerged somewhere unexpectedly, he was compelled to restrict his movements, but never stopped writing and continued to publish several books thereafter. Subsequently, his Midnight’s Children also won the Booker of Bookers (1993) and the Best of the Booker (2008), while Rushdie was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1983 and was knighted in 2007, much to the displeasure of Iran and Pakistan. In 1999, he was appointed as a Commandeur de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres of France and he became an American citizen in 2016.
Although after nearly a decade the Iranian government revoked their fatwa against Rushdie in 1998 and he returned to public life, he was attacked and seriously injured in Chautauqua, New York on 12 August 2022, when a man rushed onto the stage where the novelist was scheduled to deliver a lecture and brutally stabbed him several times.
While according to the latest news, Rushdie is recuperating from his damaged liver and other wounds, the attending physicians are apprehensive about his vision loss in one of his eyes.
Apart from his four marriages, Salman Rushdie is known to be a womanizer and had numerous relationships throughout his life. His love life began with his first wife, Clarissa Luard, whom he met at a pop concert in 1969, got hitched and started to live together. While living with the then-unpublished author, Clarissa began working as a publicity manager for the London publishing house Paul Elek starting in 1974 and went to work for literary agents AP Watt, just a year before they split. Like Salman, Clarissa worked actively in the arts and went on to become a literature officer with the Arts Council of England. The couple had their only child, son Zafar, in 1979, before they divorced in 1987. However, they remained friends till she died of cancer in 1999.
On the heels of his divorce from Clarissa, Salman married the American novelist, Pulitzer Prize finalist, Marianne Wiggins in 1988. Marianne won the 1989 Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize for the best novel written by an American woman for her book, John Dollar. The couple were living in London in 1989 when Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini issued a Fatwa to assassinate him for his book, The Satanic Verses, for allegedly blasphemous towards Islam. Marianne went into hiding with Salman, but the two eventually divorced in 1993.
After that, Salman married a fellow author, Elizabeth West, in 1997, the author of In the Hills series of books about her experiences living in rural Wales. The two collaborated when she co-edited Rushdie’s book Mirrorwork: 50 Years of Indian Writing 1947-1997 and they welcomed a son, Milan Rushdie, in 1999. Although they divorced in 2004, they had split long before that, after Salman met former Vogue model Padma Lakshmi at a party in New York in 1999 and started to live with her soon after.
Padma Lakshmi met Rushdie and was instantly enamoured with his brilliance and eloquence. Later, in an interview with People Magazine she likened Rushdie's celebrity in India to that of Hemingway in the United States. Seduced by his greatest weapon, his words and flattered by his persistence, Lakshmi began a telephone relationship with Rushdie, which soon developed into a physical affair, consummated in his Manhattan hotel room on their very first date. According to her version, she woke with a start at 3 am, mortified to find herself naked in a married man’s bed and sneaked out of the hotel. Although she vowed to stop the illicit affair, Rushdie assured to marry her soon, as his marriage to his third wife, Elizabeth West, was on the rocks.
They began to live together in 2000 and got married in 2004, when Padma Lakshmi was 28, 24 years his junior and stood a full seven inches taller in her heels than the 5feet 7inches Rushdie, who was 52.
The problems in their marriage quickly came to the surface, as Padma Lakshmi was a patient of undiagnosed endometriosis, a disorder in which tissues that normally line the uterus, grow outside the uterus, creating great pelvic pain, especially associated with menstruation. The problem left her bedridden with chronic pain for several days and made it difficult for the pair to have sex. As Rushdie's constant need for sexual intimacy directly collided together with her health, at one point, Rushdie became so angry about this lack of sexual intimacy in their married life that he called his relationship with Lakshmi a worthless investment. On one particular occasion, when Padma Lakshmi returned home after a four-and-a-half-hour operation with tubes in both kidneys and stitches in four major organs, Rushdie left on a trip the following day, leaving her alone during the post operative recuperation, rather than staying with her and look after her lovingly.
Finally, Lakshmi divorced Rushdie just three years after they were married, in 2007. In her memoirs, she slammed Rushdie for being always sexually hungry and completely insensitive to her poor physical condition and need for medical attention.
Later, Rushdie discovered that the common link between all his women is that they had missing parents. His first wife Clarissa’s father committed suicide and his second wife Marianne’s mother committed suicide. While Elizabeth’s mother died when she was very young, Padma’s father left her mother when she was only about one. However, it is also evident that most of his lovers had sultry looks and were taller than him.
Following his split from Padma Lakshmi, Rushdie was seen with several beauties, including Bollywood star Riya Sen, daughter of the superstar, Moon Moon Sen and granddaughter of the legendary actress, Suchitra Sen. Apart from having good acting skills, Riya was blessed with a beautiful look, like her mother and grandmother. Rushdie met her in a club in mid 2008 and probably gave her his number and invited her to be with him in New York. Why they parted ways was unknown, but it was speculated that long-distance relationship and the huge age difference were the reasons, but Riya famously stated that she was not interested to settle for an elderly married man.
However, during that time, Rushdie and Paralympian and model actress Aimee Mullins began dating and it was suggested by many that her personal triumph over her disability to set a world record in long jump, endeared her to Rushdie. In 2008, Rushdie was also spotted wooing the 25-year-old Aita Ighordaro, an Oxford-educated journalist, at the Veuve Clicquot Gold Cup Polo at Cowdray Park in Sussex and in the same year, he attended the annual Washington Correspondents Dinner with actress Olivia Wilde as his date.
In 2009, the 6 feet tall, Broadway and movie actor Pia Glenn fell for the bespectacled Rushdie, despite the 29 year age gap between them and stated to the media that she found his genius an aphrodisiac, describing her relationship with Rushdie as a meeting of minds. After his split from Pia Glenn, Rushdie was seen attending the Norman Mailer Writers' Colony Gala with stunning author Min Lieskovsky on his arm, reports the New York Post. Apart from that Rushdie was also linked to actress Rosario Dawson, a model-turned-charity campaigner Topaz Page-Green and Melissa Missy Brody. a New York socialite.
Devorah Rose, the busty and beautiful reality TV wannabe went on four dates with Rushdie, after connecting through a series of flirtatious messages on Facebook. However, their short-lived relationship turned sour, when she refused to sleep with him. Later, she described him as a literary genius with the emotions of a horny child. She also stated that while his mind is smart, his actions are infantile and his behaviour is beastly. After Rushdie ended his relationship with Devorah Rose, he proposed to Michelle Barish, the stunning ex-wife of Chris Barish, the co-owner of nightclub chain Marquee. But she turned down his request and returned him the seven-carat emerald-cut diamond ring he had gifted her, reported the New York Post.
In 2016, Salman Rushdie was linked with Canadian singer and performer Nikki Milovanovic, 40 years his junior. Although an unlikely match, they were hooked up after they started interacting and were spotted together in London. It is said that while his sense of humour mesmerized Nikki, her sultry look and act captivated Rushdie.
Just weeks before a crazed knifeman tried to stab the 75-year-old author of The Satanic Verses on 12 August 2022, Rushdie enjoyed a romantic 'writer's retreat' with American poet and artist, Rachel Eliza Griffiths. Later, Dana Prescott, who organised the retreat, confirmed the couple spent 18 days together at Civitella Ranieri Castle in Umbria and claimed Sir Salman declined her offer to provide security. However, it is unclear when love first blossomed for American-born Ms Griffiths and the author of Satanic Verse, but they were photographed together at literary gatherings in New York and London earlier in 2022. Although the pair never opened up publicly about their relationship, her social media account contains their photographs at several events beginning in 2017. She was by the side of Sir Salman Rushdie, when he celebrated his 72nd birthday in London in June 2019 and they were also seen at a National Arts Club film event in April 2022. Moreover, the official records in the US appear to show Ms Griffiths and Sir Salman may have purchased a home together in Delaware during the earlier part of 2022.