It’s Sir Rushdie from now
Celebrated India-born author Salman Rushdie, whose Midnight’s Children won the Booker Prize, will be knighted while Indian-origin rights campaigner Shami Chakrabarti also figures in the Queen’s honours list this year.
The son of a successful businessman, Rushdie was born into a Muslim family in Mumbai in 1947. He was educated in Britain at Rugby School and studied history at Cambridge University.
His 1988 novel The Satanic Verses provoked violent reactions across the Islamic world and the late Ayatollah Khomeini, the spiritual leader of Iran, issued a fatwa (diktat) and a death threat against him. Rushdie had to spend several years underground, appearing in public only sporadically.
Midnight’s Children won him the prestigious Booker Prize in 1981 and the Booker of Bookers in 1993 after being judged the best novel to have won the prize during its 25-year history.
Shami Chakrabarti, a barrister and former Home Office lawyer, has been named for the Commanders of the Order of the British Empire (CBE).
The 38-year-old has been a persistent critic of Britain’s stringent anti-terrorist laws. Married with one son, she was educated at the London School of Economics and has been director of Liberty — Britain’s premier human rights group — since 2001.
“I feel a bit weird about it, but it is an award for Liberty. It sends a signal that dissent is not disloyal but is a positive duty,” she was quoted as saying by the Independent newspaper.
Cricketer Ian Botham has also been named for knighthood, while the CBE list includes Glastonbury Festival founder Michael Eavis, comedian Barry Humphries and CNN correspondent Christiane Amanpour.