October 21, 2010 / 2:26 PM / 8 years ago

Random House signs rights to Rushdie memoir

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Random House has acquired international rights to publish British author Salman Rushdie’s upcoming memoirs, it said Thursday.

Author Salman Rushdie poses for a photograph after an interview with Reuters in central London, October 8, 2010. REUTERS/Andrew Winning

The memoirs, due to appear in 2012, are expected to focus on the author’s time in hiding after Iran’s then supreme leader Ayatollah Khomeini issued a death edict against him in 1989 for writing “The Satanic Verses,” deemed blasphemous to Islam.

The fatwa forced the writer into hiding which he only fully emerged from nine years later, despite occasional public appearances between 1989 and 1998.

Random House, part of the German media conglomerate Bertelsmann, called the deal “one of the most far-reaching multi-national and multi-language book-publishing deals by one publisher for a single title.”

It has bought the hardcover, paperback, audio and e-book rights for editions in English, German and Spanish from Rushdie’s agent Andrew Wylie.

Rushdie told Reuters in a recent interview that he was around one quarter of the way through what will be one of the publishing world’s most eagerly-awaited titles, and expected to have the manuscript completed by the end of 2011.

Random House plans to publish the memoir simultaneously in each of its territories and in book, digital and audio formats.

“This extraordinary work merits an extraordinary publishing effort on our part,” said Markus Dohle, chairman and chief executive officer of Random House worldwide.

Random House will publish the memoir in English in the United States, Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India, and South Africa.

Its German edition will be sold in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland and Spanish translation in Spain, Argentina, Mexico, Colombia, Chile, Venezuela, and Uruguay.

Rushdie, 63, said in the interview that there was an “information vacuum” about years in hiding which he wanted to fill, and he finally felt it was time to confront a difficult period in his life.

“So far I feel that I’m right — I’m not getting churned up and upset, I’m just writing it and I’m feeling quite pleased to be writing it.

“It’s true that there being a kind of information vacuum allows people to speculate or to invent maliciously and that has been a little frustrating, but the truth is that until quite recently I was not ready to write this book.”

The author has just published the children’s story “Luka and the Fire of Life.” His 1981 novel “Midnight’s Children” won the Booker Prize and he is adapting it into a movie to be directed by Indian-born filmmaker Deepa Mehta.

Reporting by Mike Collett-White; Editing by Patricia Reaney

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