Salman Rushdie was born in Bombay on June 19, 1947, just eight weeks before Indian independence. A member of a middle-class Muslim family, he attended the Cathedral Boys' High School and was later sent to the prestigious Rugby School in England. He received his MA with honors from King's College, Cambridge, in 1968.

After a brief career as an actor, he took up fiction while earning his living as an advertising copywriter. Rushdie published his first novel, Grimus, about a Native American who receives the gift of immortality, in 1975.

Midnight's Children followed in 1981 and made Rushdie's name. The novel quickly sold 43,000 copies and won Britain's top literary prize, the Booker. Then able to commit his energies full-time to writing, Rushdie brought out Shame (1983) and The Jaguar Smile (1987), a non-fiction account of the political and social conditions he observed during a 1986 trip to Nicaragua.

In 1988, Rushdie published The Satanic Verses, which incorporates events depicted in the Koran and other aspects of Islamic culture. The Satanic Verses enraged devout Muslims and touched off an international furor, and a fatwa was issued from Iran calling for the author's execution. Rushdie went into hiding and spent much of the next decade under the constant protection of bodyguards. In 1998, the Iranian foreign minister, Kamal Kharraz lifted the fatwa.

Since 1990, Rushdie has published Imaginary Homelands: Essays and Criticism, 1981-1991 (1992); The Wizard of Oz (1992), an appreciation of the MGM classic; East, West: Stories (1994); The Moor's Last Sigh (1995); The Ground Beneath Her Feet (1999); and Fury: A Novel (2001). A new collection, Step Across This Line: Collected Nonfiction, is due out this year.