Why Did Salman Rushdie and Padma Lakshmi Divorce?

Controversial novelist Salman Rushdie was stabbed on Aug. 12, 2022, while speaking in New York. The writer had to go into hiding in the past due to his works — but it’s not just his novels that have given him attention. Salman Rushdie and Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi married in 2004 but divorced just a few years later. So, what happened? Here’s what we know, plus more about Salman Rushdie’s ex-wives.

Who is Salman Rushdie’s ex-wife, Padma Lakshmi?

Salman Rushdie and wife Padma Lakshmi smiling and walking hand in hand down the street
Salman Rushdie and wife Padma Lakshmi | Antonello NUSCA/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

Fans of Bravo’s Top Chef know Padma Lakshmi as the host of the show rather than Salman Rushdie’s ex-wife. Fox News notes Lakshmi was born in India and eventually grew a career in acting, modeling, and writing in the U.S. She attended Clark University and graduated with a degree in theater arts and American literature.

In addition to Top Chef, Lakshmi has her Hulu show, Taste the Nation, which began in 2021. She also hosted Padma’s Passport and Domenica In and wrote a memoir titled Love, Loss, and What We Ate. Other books written by her include Easy Exotic, Tangy, Tart, Hot & Sweet, and the children’s book Tomatoes for Neela.

Salman Rushdie and Padma Lakshmi initially met in 1999, and they tied the knot in 2004. “For us Indians, he’s like Hemingway,” she told People. “Imagine a young woman in her 20s, who loves books and who had published her little cookbook, and in comes this guy. I mean, he was the best thing that ever happened to me by a mile. The fact that somebody of that stature and caliber was even interested remotely enough in me to want to take me to lunch was kind of unbelievable.”

Why did the couple divorce?

Salman Rushdie and wife Padma Lakshmi
Salman Rushdie and wife Padma Lakshmi | Boris Horvat/AFP via Getty Images

Padma Lakshmi told People that she was “hooked” when she first began talking to Salman Rushdie. “For me, it was wonderful because I finally had somebody who understood me because he too was Indian and he was also living in the West and he was very nimble in navigating those two worlds,” she further explained.

Unfortunately, after a few blissful years, their marriage started to fall apart. Lakshmi craved her own identity, and the advancements she made in her food career bred resentment from Rushdie. Additionally, she lived with severe endometriosis that left her bedridden in pain. It also made it extremely difficult to have sex. Due to their growing lack of intimacy, Rushdie called Lakshmi a “bad investment.” Ultimately, Lakshmi thinks Rushdie took her pain personally and felt “rejected.” They divorced in 2007.

“Endometriosis was definitely a major reason that my marriage failed and I don’t think either of us understood it at the time,” she shared. “I think that’s also because I hid it to a certain degree, not intentionally but you know, it’s weird to talk about your period all the time. It’s like the least sexy thing in the world to do.”

Salman Rushdie had 3 wives before Padma Lakshmi

Salman Rushdie and ex-wife Elizabeth West with their son
Salman Rushdie and ex-wife Elizabeth West with their son | Cate Gillon/Getty Images

Aside from Padma Lakshmi, who were Salman Rushdie’s other wives?

Closer Weekly reports Rushdie married his first wife, Clarissa Luard, in 1976. They met at a concert in 1969, and Luard also worked in publishing. She later became a literature officer with the Arts Council of England. They divorced in 1987.

Rushdie’s second wife Marianne Wiggins just a year after his divorce from Luard. Wiggins is an American-born author, and she went into hiding with Rushdie after his novel, The Satanic Verses, caused Iran’s leader to issue an assassination decree. They divorced in 1993.

Rushdie’s third wife, Elizabeth West, is yet another author. The couple married in 1997 and had a son together in 1999. They divorced in 2004.

For more on the entertainment world and exclusive interviews, subscribe to Showbiz Cheat Sheet’s YouTube channel.

RELATED: ‘Top Chef’s Padma Lakshmi Speaks Out After the Brutal Attack of a Family Friend: ‘Every Parent’s Worst Nightmare’