In 1989 Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Iran’s then spiritual leader pronounced a Fatwa on writer Salman Rushdie for his work on The Satanic Verses, a book that gently chided some elements of the Islamic faith. A bounty was immediately placed on his head, forcing Rushdie to live under police protection for years. It turns out he dealt with the subsequent isolation the way any reasonable human being would — he played video games.
Specifically, he played Mario. According to Joseph Anton’s new memoirs, Rushdie’s son introduced him to the game, much to the distress of his wife.
Marianne came around and scolded him for playing video games. Thanks to Zafar, he had grown fond of Mario the plumber and his brother Luigi and sometimes Super Mario World felt like a happy alternative to the one he lived in the rest of the time. “Read a good book,” his wife told him scornfully. “Give it up.” He lost his temper. “Don’t tell me how to live my life,” he exploded, and she made a grand exit.
And then later in the book…
Alone at Hermitage Lane he reached the end of his Super Mario game, defeating the big bad Bowser himself and rescuing the insufferably pink Princess Toadstool. He was glad Marianne was not there to witness his triumph.
Amazing. It somehow makes sense that a giant of literature would have such good taste in video games.
For more information on Rushdie’s love of Mario, and how it actually ended up influencing his work, I fully recommend heading here.
Salman Rushdie Meets Super Mario [The Millions]