TV Critic’s Corner

Salman Rushdie responds to Larry David’s ‘Fatwa!’

Salman Rushdie in 2015.
Sara Krulwich/The New York Times/file
Salman Rushdie in 2015.

I love this almost as much as I love the fact that, this week, the PBS series “Finding Your Roots” discovered that Larry David and Bernie Sanders are actually related. David, as you may recall, did an uncanny impersonation of Sanders on “Saturday Night Live.”

If you watched the season premiere of David’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” you know that Larry has spent the last six years writing a musical called “Fatwa!” The story is based on the experiences of Salman Rushdie after Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a death threat against Rushdie for his 1988 novel “The Satanic Verses.” At the end of the “Curb” premiere, Larry himself winds up with a fatwa directed at him.

On Tuesday night, Rushdie appeared on “Late Night With Seth Meyers” to promote his new novel, “The Golden House,” and he talked about the “Curb” plotline. “They did run it by me,” he said, then added, with a laugh, “I mean I don’t think they would have not done it if I had said no.”


Rushdie says he’s glad to see the fatwa period in his life made light of. “In a funny way, ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ making jokes about it is kind of cool because it defuses it,” he said.

“Because the attack was not funny, it was assumed that the book couldn’t be funny. And because the attack was kind of weird and incomprehensible and foreign and theological, it was assumed that the book would be weird and incomprehensible and theological. Somehow, I acquired the characteristics of the attack against me and I have had to sort of get out from under that cloud.”

Matthew Gilbert can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @MatthewGilbert.