LONDON -- Author Salman Rushdie, in his first television interview since going into hiding 18 months ago, says he is sorry for any hurt his novel "The Satanic Verses" may have caused.
"The book did not set out to do the thing that it has been accused of, which is to insult and abuse, and if that is how people have read it then I am very sorry," he says in a London Weekend Television program to be broadcast Sunday.
"All I can say is if punishment was the aim, I've had some," he says, adding that his underground life has been "hell."
"It has torn apart everything I ever thought about everything, which is probably not a bad thing for a writer, but this is a rather extreme way of doing it."
The interview on the arts program "The South Bank Show" is timed to coincide with the publication of Mr. Rushdie's first book since "The Satanic Verses" provoked Iran's Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to pass a religious death sentence on him.
The new book is a children's fairy tale called "Haroun and the Sea of Stories." It is dedicated to his son, Zafar, whom he has not seen since his enforced disappearance.