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On February 14, 1989, Valentine’s Day, Salman Rushdie was telephoned by a BBC journalist and told that he had been “sentenced to death” by the Ayatollah Khomeini. For the first time he heard the word fatwa. His crime? To have written a novel called The Satanic Verses, which was accused of being “against Islam, the Prophet and the Quran.”
So begins the extraordinary story of how a writer was forced underground, moving from house to house, with the constant presence of an armed police protection team. He was asked to choose an alias that the police could call him by. He thought of writers he loved and combinations of their names; then it came to him: Conrad and Chekhov— Joseph Anton.
How do a writer and his family live with the threat of murder for more than nine years? How does he go on working? How does he fall in and out of love? How does despair shape his thoughts and actions, how and why does he stumble, how does he learn to fight back? In this remarkable memoir Rushdie tells that story for the first time; the story of one of the crucial battles, in our time, for freedom of speech. He talks about the sometimes grim, sometimes comic realities of living with armed policemen, and of the close bonds he formed with his protectors; of his struggle for support and understanding from governments, intelligence chiefs, publishers, journalists, and fellow writers; and of how he regained his freedom.
It is a book of exceptional frankness and honesty, compelling, provocative, moving, and of vital importance. Because what happened to Salman Rushdie was the first act of a drama that is still unfolding somewhere in the world every day.
Praise for Joseph Anton
“A harrowing, deeply felt and revealing document: an autobiographical mirror of the big, philosophical preoccupations that have animated Mr. Rushdie’s work throughout his career.” —Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
“A splendid book, the finest . . . memoir to cross my desk in many a year.” —Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post
“Thoughtful and astute . . . an important book.” —USA Today
“Compelling, affecting . . . demonstrates Mr. Rushdie’s ability as a stylist and storytelle. . . . [He] reacted with great bravery and even heroism.” —The Wall Street Journal
“Gripping, moving and entertaining . . . nothing like it has ever been written.” —The Independent (UK)
“A thriller, an epic, a political essay, a love story, an ode to liberty.” —Le Point (France)
“Action-packed . . . in a literary class by itself . . . Like Isherwood, Rushdie’s eye is a camera lens —firmly placed in one perspective and never out of focus.” —Los Angeles Review of Books
“Unflinchingly honest . . . an engrossing, exciting, revealing and often shocking book.” —de Volkskrant (The Netherlands)
“One of the best memoirs you may ever read.” —DNA (India)
“Extraordinary . . . Joseph Anton beautifully modulates between . . . moments of accidental hilarity, and the higher purpose Rushdie saw in opposing—at all costs—any curtailment on a writer’s freedom.” —The Boston Globe
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Salman Rushdie is the author of eleven novels— Grimus, Midnight’s Children (for which he won the Booker Prize and the Best of the Booker), Shame, The Satanic Verses, Haroun and the Sea of Stories, The Moor’s Last Sigh, The Ground Beneath Her Feet, Fury, Shalimar the Clown, The Enchantress of Florence, and Luka and the Fire of Life—and one collection of short stories: East, West. He has also published three works of nonfiction: The Jaguar Smile, Imaginary Homelands: Essays and Criticism 1981–1991, and Step Across This Line, and coedited two anthologies, Mirrorwork and Best American Short Stories 2008. He is a former president of American PEN.
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Book Description Random House. 1 Cloth(s), 2012. hard. Book Condition: New. (Named one of the Best Books of 2012 by London's Economist, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Seattle Times, the Kansas City Star, and Newsweek) The author of Midnight's Children and winner of the Booker of Bookers and many other of the world's most prestigious literary awards, Salman Rushdie is most widely known for The Satanic Verses, the 1988 novel that was banned in many Islamic countries. Most of the furor was sparked when Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa—a religious decree that Rushdie and his publishers should be killed on sight. And while this action chilled Western and Muslim relations around the world, for Rushdie personally it led to years of hiding, moving from house to house with the constant presence of armed police, and living under an alias—Joseph Anton. More than a memoir, Joseph Anton is a frank, profound, sometimes surprisingly funny examination of the inalienable right to—and vital need for—free speech."A harrowing, deeply felt and revealing document: an autobiographical mirror of the big, philosophical preoccupations that have animated Mr. Rushdie's work throughout his career."—NYTimes"Extraordinary. Joseph Anton beautifully modulates between . moments of accidental hilarity, and the higher purpose Rushdie saw in opposing—at all costs—any curtailment on a writer's freedom."—Boston Globe"Rushdie accomplishes many wondrous and momentous feats in this profound and galvanizing memoir. He shares the now strangely foreshadowing fact that his ardent storyteller father invented their last name, paying tribute to Ibn Rushd, a 12th-century Spanish Arab philosopher who argued for rationalism over Islamic literalism. He explains how, decades later, when British protection officers asked him to come up with an alias, really a nom de guerre, Rushdie concocted Joseph Anton in homage to Joseph Conrad and Anton Chekhov. His first fictions, he observes, were the upbeat letters he sent to his parents in India, concealing his boarding-school miseries in cold and racist 1960s England. He learned to focus on his inner life, cherish kindred spirits, and navigate adversity, skills that served him well after the Ayatollah Khomeini issued his fatwa, sentencing Rushdie to death for writing The Satanic Verses. Rushdie tells the full, astonishing, and necessary story of his 13 hellish years of threats, risk, and protective isolation in a passionately detailed, sardonically witty, and intensely dramatic third-person chronicle of a landmark battle in the war for liberty in the Muslim world. Forthright about his personal struggles and immensely grateful to all who championed his cause, Rushdie elucidates what literature does for us and why artistic and intellectual freedoms truly are matters of life and death."—Booklist (starred review) 637. Bookseller Inventory # 41062
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