Quill and Quire


« Back to

Professors Rushdie and Amis

Nearly everyone has a bad Valentine’s Day story – and there are undoubtedly a few more out there after yesterday – but few can top Salman Rushdie’s. The Ayatollah Khomeini’s murderous fatwa against the author came down on this particular Hallmark holiday back in 1989.

Now, though, it’s already been close to 10 years since Rushdie came out of hiding (after the Iranian government withdrew the fatwa), and this year Rushdie celebrated Valentine’s Day by doing something new: starting a gig as a world literature lecturer at Emory University in Atlanta. According to a CBC Arts/Associated Press story, “Rushdie will teach more than a dozen Emory graduate students in a weekly literature seminar. He is also scheduled to host a public lecture later in February.” The university is now also the holder of his literary archives.

And how did the school attract its new star professor? Very easily, apparently. “Because they asked me and nobody else ever had,” says Rushdie.

And he’s not the only literary giant breaking into the teaching racket. As The Guardian reports, Rushdie’s friend Martin Amis is becoming a creative writing prof at Manchester University. It’s hard to imagine Amis suffering patiently through typical, competently mediocre student work, but he insists that he’ll be kind to his pupils: “I may be acerbic in how I write but I’m not how I live. And I would find it very difficult to say cruel things to people in such a vulnerable position. I imagine I’ll be surprisingly sweet and gentle with them.”