Salman Rushdie to Speak on ‘Public Events, Private Lives’

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The celebrated author returns to Dartmouth for a public lecture July 14.

Salman Rushdie surrounded by a group of students
Salman Rushdie visits with students during his 2015 visit to Dartmouth. (Photo by Eli Burakian ’00) 

Booker Prize-winning novelist Salman Rushdie returns to Dartmouth July 13 and 14 as a Montgomery Fellow.

The author of The Satanic Verses and Midnight’s Children will discuss “Public Events, Private Lives” at 5 p.m. on Friday, July 14, in Spaulding Auditorium at the Hopkins Center for the Arts. The event is free and open to the public.

Rushdie first visited Dartmouth in 2015 for a standing-room-only lecture in which he advocated for the place of the fantastic in contemporary literature. That event was sponsored by the Office of the President and the Kenneth and Harle Montgomery Endowment.

During his residency, Rushdie will meet for breakfast with a group of about 30 undergraduate and graduate students and have lunch with members of the faculty.   

Rushdie has written 12 novels, a collection of short stories, and several works of nonfiction. His new novel, The Golden House (forthcoming in September), is described as “a modern American epic set against the panorama of contemporary politics and culture,” and has been compared to Bonfire of the Vanities and The Great Gatsby.

His 2012 memoir, Joseph Anton, describes how his life was upended when Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini called for his death in 1989—a threat that lasted for more than a decade. (The book takes its title from the alias he used with his police protectors during this periodcombining the names of two of his favorite writers, Joseph Conrad and Anton Chekov.)

He has received numerous awards for his work from around the world, including two Whitbread Prizes, the French Prix du Meilleur Livre Étranger, the Austrian State Prize for European Literature, and a U.S. National Arts Award. His 1981 novel, Midnight’s Children, won the Man Booker Prize and went on to be named the “Booker of Bookers” in 1993 and the “Best of the Booker” in 2008. He has received a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II; the Freedom of the City in Mexico City, Strasbourg, and El Paso; the Edgerton Prize of the American Civil Liberties Union; and France’s highest artistic honor, the rank of Commandeur in the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.

A vociferous advocate of free speech and the international literary community, Rushdie has served as president of PEN American Center, which defends freedom of expression around the world. He helped create and served as chair of the PEN World Voices International Literary Festival, the only international literary festival held in the United States. Rushdie holds honorary doctorates and fellowships at a dozen universities and is an honorary professor in the humanities at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University Distinguished Professor at Emory University, and a Distinguished Writer in Residence at New York University.

The Montgomery Fellows Program

Since 1977, the Montgomery endowment, created by a gift from Kenneth ’25 and Harle Montgomery, has brought distinguished guests to campus to reside at the Montgomery House on Rope Ferry Road and work, teach, and in other ways engage with the Dartmouth community. Though the length of residencies varies, Montgomery Fellows retain the distinction for life.

“As the Montgomery Fellows Program starts celebrating its 40th anniversary, we are honored to have Sir Salman Rushdie in residence,” says Klaus Milich, director of the Montgomery Fellows Program.

Rushdie’s residency caps off the program’s 2016-17 season, which included former president of Kosovo Atifete Jahjaga, geologist David Montgomery (no relation), ceramicist Magdalene Odundo, artist Eric van Hove, actress Rhodessa Jones, photographer Fazal Sheikh, writer André Aciman, novelist Édouard Louis, and poet José Kozer.

Hannah Silverstein