Sir Salman Rushdie needed consoling every year that he did not win the Nobel Prize for literature, and their marriage was marred by insecurity and jealousy, according to an explosive autobiography by his former wife.
Padma Lakshmi accused Sir Salman of describing her as "a bad investment" after she refused his sexual advances, and painted him as a cold and heartless husband.
The Indian-American model and judge on US television show Top Chef has lifted the lid on her three-year marriage to Sir Salman, author of The Satanic Verses. In the autobiography, published in the US tomorrow (Tuesday), the 45-year-old details a series of fiery relationships.
She met Sir Salman in 1999, when Miss Lakshmi was 28 and single, and Sir Salman was 51 and already married to his third wife. Miss Lakshmi and Sir Salman married in 2004, and he used to make her breakfast in bed every morning at first, she says.
But slowly it soured, with Sir Salman proving as "lethally eloquent" in wars of words as in print. The author, who was born in Bombay but brought up in Britain, was knighted in 2007, having won the Booker Prize in 1983 for Midnight's Children.
She told People magazine this week: "I just wanted my own identity. I was making the transition out of one stage of my life and into another. But in order to do that, it required that I wasn't everywhere that he needed me to be."
Miss Lakshmi developed endometriosis, a painful condition affecting the lining of the womb, and she writes that Sir Salman was unsympathetic. When she refused sex due to the pain, he would reply: "How convenient."
"It's not that I didn't want to be there for him, but something was very deeply wrong," she said. "And I didn't understand it. And that caused a whole lot of misunderstanding."
After five-hour surgery, Miss Lakshmi had stitches in four organs and stents in her kidneys. But Sir Salman left the next day for a work trip.
"The show must go on, after all," he said on his way out the door, according to Miss Lakshmi.
As soon as she could leave the house, she went to a divorce lawyer. She went on to become involved with Ted Forstmann, a billionaire chief executive, who died in 2011, aged 71.
Sir Salman has not responded to his former wife's onslaught. But shortly after his marriage to Miss Lakshmi ended, he said he thought marriage was an unnecessary complication in life - and that women only want it for the dress.
"It's strange, given that I've been married four times, but I actually don't think marriage is necessary," he said. "Girls like it, especially if they've never been married before - it's the dress. Girls want a wedding, they don't want a marriage. If only you could have weddings without marriages."
Sir Salman also disclosed that he and Miss Lakshmi had marriage counselling, but without success.