I have put out a contract on Salman Rushdie

June, 1998: Kurt Vonnegut writes a light-hearted letter to Avatar Prabhu – pseudonym of the author Richard Crasta – in response to Crasta’s controversial novel, The Revised Kama Sutra, being dedicated to the Slaughterhouse Five novelist. Vonnegut closes the missive by amusingly taking a swipe at Salman Rushdie who, whilst in hiding years previous, had written a less-than-glowing review of Vonnegut’s 1990 novel, Hocus Pocus.

Transcript follows. Image courtesy of Richard Crasta.


June 1 98

Dear Avatar Prabhu —

I thank you for THE REVISED KAMA SUTRA. I am honored by the dedication, and salute you as a full-fledged colleague, as will Joe Heller, too, I’m sure. The only other book dedicated to me is a biography of the late Frank Zappa. Are you sufficiently acculturated to know who Frank Zappa was?

As for acculturation: Yours is the most fucked-up, bewildering case ever brought to my attention as a reader, starting, for God’s sake, with a Roman Catholic upbringing in the famously non-Christian matrix of the Indian sub-continent — an area, incidentally, and for reasons other than bizarre sexual attitudes, which is much in the news nowadays.

I have met Salmon Rushdie, your peer in blasphemy. While in deep hiding, he gave a corrosively unfavorable review of a book of mine, so I have put out a contract on him. If the Moslem assassins don’t get him, my Roman Catholic Italian psychopath will.

Yes — I am reading you, and finding you very funny.

Cheers —

Kurt Vonnegut