Let's say you're an award winning novelist and the Supreme Leader of Iran has issued a fatwā for your head forcing you into hiding. What would you do to while the time away?

If you're Salman Rushdie you play Super Mario World, as it turns out the esteemed author did quite a lot of after his controversial book The Satanic Verses caught the ire of the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

1
The name's Rushdie. Salman Rushdie.

In his new third-person memoir Joseph Anton (as detailed by The Millions) the author explained that he got really into Super Mario World after his son Zafar taught him to play it during his decade on the lam.

A choice excerpt from Joseph Anton reads:

"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."

A few days later...

"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."

Rushdie even wrote a couple of children's novels during his decade in hiding, one of which, Luka and the Fire of Life, bears a strong resemblance to Mario's exploits in the Mushroom Kingdom.

The story is about a boy dubbed "Super-Luka" who must steal the fire of life to reawaken his comatose storyteller father. Luka is given 999 lives to accomplish this, must pass through several stages of increasing difficulty and he actually saves his progress by punching a gold ball.

This isn't the first time the Booker Prize-winning author has extolled the virtues of videogames. A couple of years ago the author told Big Think "I often think that the best way to liberate Iran is just to drop Nintendo consoles from the air."

He also found the structure of games fascinating. "There are all kinds of excursions and digressions that you can choose to go on and find mini stories to stories to participate in instead of the big story, the macro story. I think that really interests me as a storyteller," he said.

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About the author

Jeffrey Matulef

Jeffrey Matulef

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Jeffrey Matulef is the best-dressed man in 1984. Based in Portland, OR he operates as Eurogamer's US news editor.

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