Sir Salman Rushdie: ‘It’s a privilege to be included in illustrious company’

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Sir Salman Rushdie has told of his “great surprise and delight” as he is to receive a prestigious honour for his services to literature.

The author, 74, of titles such as The Satanic Verses, Midnight’s Children and 2019’s Quichotte, has been made a member of the Order of the Companions of Honour as part of the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

He was knighted in 2008, also for his services to literature, and has a literary career that spans more than two decades and during which he has won several high-profile accolades such as the Booker prize.

The 89th Academy Awards – Vanity Fair Party – Los Angeles
Salman Rushdie arriving at the Vanity Fair Oscar Party in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, USA.

Sir Salman said in a statement to the PA news agency: “It was with great surprise and delight that I learned of this extraordinary honour.

“It’s a privilege to be included in such illustrious company, both past and present.”

The Order of the Companions of Honour was founded on June 4 1917 by George V and it is limited to just 65 members at any one time.

Appointments go to those who have made a long-standing contribution to arts, science, medicine or government.

Three have been named in the latest list including Sir Salman, illustrator Sir Quentin Blake and Professor of English and creative writing, Dame Marina Warner.

Sir Salman attended King’s College, Cambridge, where he read history and appeared as “a tiny bulb in The Footlights” along with Clive James and Germaine Greer.

(PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)

He began his writing career in the early seventies with two unsuccessful books before Midnight’s Children, about the birth of India, which won the Booker Prize in 1981.

It went on to bring him worldwide fame, with it also later crowned the “best of the Bookers” on the literary award’s 25th anniversary.

The author lived in hiding for many years after Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa calling for his execution over his 1988 book The Satanic Verses.

Finally, in 1998, the Iranian Government withdrew its support for the death sentence and Rushdie gradually returned to public life, even appearing as himself in the 2001 hit film Bridget Jones’s Diary.

In the 1970s he worked as an advertising copywriter and came up with the famous cream cakes slogan “Naughty but nice”.

His other works include the Moor’s Last Sight and Shalimar The Clown, which was long-listed for the Booker.

In 2017 The Golden House, which tackled the subject of gender identity was published, and last year Languages Of Truth: Essays 2003–2020, was published.

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