Book saves Salman Rushdie from "wrecked" private life

Wed Apr 16, 2008 4:34pm EDT
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By Mike Collett-White

LONDON (Reuters) - British author Salman Rushdie says writing a new novel saved him from the "wreckage" of his divorce last year from fourth wife Padma Lakshmi.

"The Enchantress of Florence," Rushdie's 10th novel, is a story of 15th and 16th century court intrigue in Florence and the Mughal capital Fatehpur Sikri which marks a return to his trademark magical realism where fact and fantasy intertwine.

"It was a good place to go at a time when my private life was in a state of wreckage, and yes it was, I suppose, a bit of a refuge," Rushdie told Reuters in an interview.

"I think in the end what got me through it was the long familiarity of the necessary discipline of writing a novel."

Rushdie, best known for his 1988 novel "The Satanic Verses" which outraged Muslims and forced him into hiding after a death edict was issued by Iran's then supreme religious leader, announced the divorce in 2007, ending a three-year marriage.

"I found that in the end a lifetime's habit of just going to my desk and doing a day's work and not allowing myself not to do it is what got me back on track.

"I was derailed for a while. I was in bad shape and it brought me back to myself."

His tale of two cities centers around real-life characters like the great Mughal emperor Akbar and philosopher Niccolo Machiavelli in Italy and others like the mysterious beauty Qara Koz, who enchants men wherever she goes.   Continued...

<p>British author Salman Rushdie listens during an interview with Reuters in London April 15, 2008. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez</p>