Booker Prize-winning author Salman Rushdie has collected his royal Companion of Honour award at an investiture ceremony at Windsor Castle in south-east England, nearly a year after it was conferred to him by the late Queen Elizabeth II in June last year. Mumbai-born Rushdie received the honour from Anne, the Princess Royal – the sister of King Charles III, on Tuesday, days after he was honoured at his first in-person public appearance in New York since being stabbed and severely wounded in a knife attack at a literary event in New York last year.
Rushdie, 75, received the PEN Centenary Courage Award at the 2023 Literary Gala at the American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan on Thursday. The author, who now wears a patch on his right eye which suffered the knife injury, said it was a “great honour” to be recognised for a “lifetime” of work and described Princess Anne as “very generous”. Asked about his next book, Rushdie confirmed that has started writing again and spent six weeks in hospital in critical condition. “Oh, I’ll let you know,” he told the BBC, when asked about the timeline of when he expected to complete his next book.
The author of ‘Midnight’s Children’ was named a Companion of Honour, an exclusive club with membership limited to just 65 people at any given time, for services to literature in a list released as part of the Jubilee Honours in June 2022 to mark the Platinum Jubilee of the late Queen’s 70-year reign. “It’s a privilege to be included in such illustrious company, both past and present,” Rushdie had said at the time. The Companion of Honour is a special award granted to those who have made a major contribution to the arts, science, medicine, or government lasting over a long period of time. Very few receive this high honour, which has been conferred on the likes of former British prime ministers Sir Winston Churchill and John Major and renowned physicist Stephen Hawking in the past.
“Born in Bombay, he later attended Rugby School and King’s College, Cambridge, where he read History,” read the citation for Rusdhie.“Beginning his career in advertising, ‘Midnight’s Children’ was twice (1993 and 2008) voted Best of the Bookers by the public. He was knighted for services to literature in 2007. He is also a storied author of non-fiction, an essayist, co-editor and a noted humanist,” it said. Rushdie, who lives in New York, has been the subject of a fatwa issued in 1989 by late Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini over his controversial novel ‘The Satanic Verses’.Last week, he made a virtual appearance from New York to accept the Freedom to Publish honour at the British Book Awards, known as the Nibbies.
Rushdie was stabbed by a 24-year-old New Jersey resident identified as Hadi Matar, a US national of Lebanese origin, on stage in August last year while he was being introduced at a literary event at Chautauqua Institution in Western New York. The brutal attack left the author, born to a Kashmiri family in Mumbai, debilitated and without vision in one eye.Rushdie has written more than a dozen books since 1981 when he first rose to fame after publishing his Booker Prize-winning tome ‘Midnight’s Children’. He has also published four non-fiction titles, including a memoir. His latest and 15th novel is titled ‘Victory City’, a fictionalised telling of the story of the Vijayanagara Kingdom.