Despite being forced underground by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's death order, the author of "The Satanic Verses" is not in bad spirits and is grateful forthe support he has received - especially from Moslems, his friends say.
Salman Rushdie has been in hiding since Feb. 14, when Iran's fundamentalist patriarch, the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, told Moslems to seek out the British author and his publishers and kill them for his allegedly blasphemous book.Blake Morrison, literary editor of the weekly newspaper The Observer, said Thursday he had talked with Rushdie and that the 41-year-old writer sounded "all right. He did not sound terminally depressed or anything," he said.
Morrison said Rushdie, from his place of hiding, had sent a review of fellow novelist Philip Roth's autobiography "The Facts" and that the review would appear in Sunday's Observer. He said that Rushdiemakes no personal statement in the review but "rather carefully and subtly" makes known his feelings about his predicament.
"In the course of reviewing Roth, who himself had a period when he was vilified by the Jews, he says he found Roth was not just speaking to him but for him," Morrison told The Associated Press.
Roth, an American Jew, came under bitter criticism for his portrayals of Jewish life and thinking, especially in his 1967 novel "Portnoy's Complaint." Part of "The Facts" is devoted to exploring these controversies.
Rushdie and his wife, American novelist Marianne Wiggins, are reportedly under police guard in Britain.
Waldenbooks, apparently irked by reports it had stopped selling "The Satanic Verses," bought a full-page ad in Friday's New York Times to deny that it had capitulated to terrorism.
"We have never taken the book off sale and have completely sold all copies," the boldly lettered advertisement read. "We will continue to sell the book when it comes back in stock at the publisher."
Japan, meanwhile, broke its silence Friday, joining many Western nations in saying Khomeini's threats are unacceptable to modern society.
Foreign Minister Sousuke Uno said there is no excuse for the death threat from Khomeini, though he stopped short of saying Japan would withdraw its diplomatic mission to Iran. Japan, heavily dependent on Persian Gulf oil, had been silent on the Rushdie incident previously.