NEW YORK -- Author Salman Rushdie, far from spending five years at the
Ireland home of U2 singer Bono while hiding from Islamic fundamentalists -- as a recent
report indicated -- told SonicNet recently that in fact he had spent no more than a
few days at Bono's home.
"I spent three or four days with him over the years. They exaggerated," Rushdie said.
That claim, which Rushdie made to SonicNet Music News at a party here early
Sunday morning, appears to put to rest any notion that the writer took regular refuge at
Bono's home while he was hiding from Islamic fundamentalists who put a
multimillion-dollar bounty on his head.
Last month, the Irish newspaper the Sunday Independent reported that, starting in
1993, longtime human-rights activist Bono extended his hospitality to the British author
five years after the late Iranian leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a "fatwa," or
religious edict, to kill Rushdie for alleged blasphemy against Islam in his 1988 book,
"The Satanic Verses."
Later, the paper retracted the story, stating that its previous assertion that the
controversial author's visits were "frequent" was an "embellishment."
"He did stay for the weekend on maybe two occasions," U2 guitarist the Edge said in a
recent interview with England's New Musical Express. "But it wasn't like he was
living with Bono for months on end, which was sort-of what the story claimed."
"We're a bit pissed off about it," the Edge (born David Evans), told NME, "because
it implies that Salman was staying for long periods of time in Bono's house, which wasn't
Even if he weren't a regular guest at Bono's home, Rushdie has been reported as being
a friend of the singer -- and U2 have been described as being great admirers of Rushdie
and his work.
In fact, rock music and work have, of late, converged for Rushdie. Currently, he is
working on a novel set in the world of rock, based on his experiences hanging out with
U2 during their multimedia, 1993 "Zoo TV" tour, during which he joined the band onstage
at London's Wembley Stadium. The novel tentatively is titled "The Ground Beneath Her
Rushdie has been aware enough of the current rock scene to arrive at some distinct
personal preferences. When asked at the Sunday party about the Brit-pop scene,
Rushdie said he prefers Blur to Oasis. He also revealed thoughts about Jarvis Cocker,
frontman and songwriter for the literate pop-group Pulp. "I met him," Rushdie said. He
then flicked his hand beside his ear -- a gesture indicating that he didn't think much of
him. "I like 'Common
People' (RealAudio excerpt)," he said, making an exception for the song that
put that long-struggling band on the map.
Of Bono, Rushdie said, "He doesn't read a lot," but pointed out that the singer possessed
a keen, natural intelligence.
When asked whether Bono is a good cook, the writer reconfirmed the limitations of his
interaction with the singer.
"I didn't have a chance to find out," Rushdie said.
Since the death threat against Rushdie was ordered, the author has spent nearly a
decade under the protection of British police. In recent months, the Iranian government
announced that it did not seek or endorse Rushdie's killing, but two groups -- an Iranian
student association and the 15 Khordad Foundation -- renewed calls for the fatwa to be
carried out, with the latter group even raising the $2.5 million bounty originally offered for
Rushdie's head to $2.8 million.