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Joseph Anton: A Memoir

3.58  ·  Rating details ·  7,274 Ratings  ·  1,150 Reviews
On February 14, 1989, Valentine’s Day, Salman Rushdie received a telephone call from a BBC journalist who told the author that he had been “sentenced to death” by the Ayatollah Khomeini. It was the first time Rushdie 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.”

Kindle Edition, 656 pages
Published September 18th 2012 by Vintage Digital (first published 2012)
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Warren Yes, I enjoyed it. The "life on the run" was well described. It was especially interesting how SR was treated and thought of by his contemporaries,…moreYes, I enjoyed it. The "life on the run" was well described. It was especially interesting how SR was treated and thought of by his contemporaries, friends and family. (less)
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Petra X
He didn't need the publicity, he didn't need the money, he knew as a highly-educated man brought up as a Muslim, exactly what he was doing and still he did it and brought death and destruction in the wake of his book, The Satanic Verses.

It was a kind of Pyrrhic victory, being morally in the right but impossible to justify when weighed against the many deaths that resulted. Those fundamentalist Muslims were determined to enforce at least outward respect for their 'values' just as he knew they wo
Sep 15, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I couldn’t get through The Satanic Verses. I found it unreadable in spite of my immense curiosity for the book. But I picked up this book with great interest to see what Rushdie went through and how he coped with the aftermath of that infamous fatwa. This book is probably twice larger than it should be, and methinks it’s commensurate with Rushdie’s ego.

I’m firmly on Rushdie’s side when it comes to the Satanic Verses saga. That evil, murderous ayatollah in Iran had no right to sentence a writer
Dec 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own
I was pondering the reviews of this book on Goodreads the other day, as I was almost finished and just wondering what other people think. A lot of people seem to find Rushdie coming across as arrogant or pompous. This is something I totally disagree with and in fact I think one of the issues he actually covers in this book. As the media saw and treated him as arrogant for quite a long time. To me he honestly doesn't come across as arrogant.

Something else people were critical about is the way th
Nov 11, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

It took a commitment to finish this book but I was pleased to have done it. Rushdie's manner is sometimes arrogant and seemingly self-involved but he is wonderfully talented and unafraid to let the reader judge him. He analyzes his circumstances and his own thinking and he challenges his reader to understand Salmon's predicament. His story of threat and exile should not be lost as it is significant to our future freedom of speech and artistic expression, our quality of life and even our survival
Apr 11, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As you are fighting a battle that may cost you your life, is the thing for which you are fighting worth loosing your life for? (p. 285)

So why is it that I feel I have to defend liking this book? Almost all reviews I’ve read – from New York Times to Goodreads – have been rather negative, attacking and blaming Rushdie. So I will just come right out and say that I really liked this book. Yes, he namedrops on every page. Yes, he of course paints a (mostly) positive picture of himself (but who would
Oct 07, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
In the first few chapters, I was a bit surprised at the gossipy, somewhat catty tone, and figured it would be chatty and light and fun, but alas: petty grievances aired, endless names dropped, revenge exacted for real or perceived insults of either the author's conduct or writing, ex-wives trashed. The treatment of these unfortunate women is surprisingly childish; he sounded like a preteen talking about how victimized he was by Padma Lakshmi (and his second wife). He also reveals himself to be s ...more
Amar Pai
Update 9/21/12: now that I'm reading this... it's kind of tedious. I don't think Rushdie's 3rd person affectation works well at all. It made me remember, I don't actually like Rushdie's writing all that much. Gave up on The Satanic Verses after 20 pages. I guess I got caught up in his life story and forgot about his qualities as a writer (which is ironic cos it's precisely the condition he so deplores, his literary qualities getting eclipsed by his status as a current event)

I think his crazy lif
Moira Russell
I don't even know what to think about this thing. About the first half is really great - even written in the Bob Dole-ish autobiographical third person - gripping, suspenseful, detailed. But the book just dies about halfway through - he starts eliding weeks, months and years, and then disastrously starts flashing forward at the same time as if he thinks he's writing a late Lost episode (near the very end he calls attention to "his Dickensian, let's-tie-up-the-loose-strings seat in the future" wh ...more
Feb 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Joseph Anton is the pseudonym Salman Rushdie had to adopt for security reasons during the decade or so he spent in hiding after the Ayatollah Khomeini placed a fatwa on him after the publication of The Satanic Verses, which Khomeini deemed to be blasphemous. This memoir deals primarily with Rushdie’s life during this period of hiding but also touches upon his life before and after this time.

Rushdie makes the interesting choice to write this memoir in the third person and there are many times in
Sep 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Salman Rushdie once again comes with another masterpiece work of art in which he recounts dispassionately his fatwa years in hiding and many interesting ,delectable experiences after the publication of a classic Satanic Verses, tragically and stupidly banned in the country of his birth!
Aug 30, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: secret celebrities
Shelves: memoir
… a reception at Tina Brown’s house, where he found himself standing in a small circle of guests whose other members were Martin Amis, Martin Scorsese, David Bowie, Iman, Harrison Ford, Calista Flockhart and Jerry Seinfeld…
For some reason this seemed like it would be an unnerving and paranoiac modernist turn on memoir-writing, with some swashbuckling-special-branch derring-do on the side. In the end you know a lot more about a typically fretful middle-aged writer and not so much about the ext
Andrew Rumbles
Oct 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Joseph Anton is the story of Salman Rushdie’s life during the fatwa, as defined by the years in which the British Police insisted his life needed Special Branch protection. The name Joseph Anton is one the police forced him to invent and use for his own protection. To be addressed as Joe in his own home always disconcerted him.

A memoir can be a dry piece of self-centred writing or in Rushdie’s case, a reason to write beautifully and poetically. Like me, you may never have read Salman Rushdie’s w
Satish Bagal
Sep 30, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have just finished reading memoirs of "Joseph Anton" written by Salman Rushdie and released last week. A remarkable book that is an autobiographical account of the days when the Ayatolla Khomenie issued a "Fatwah" to kill him for blasphemy of the religion and the Quran. It's a fantastic story of what hell and suffering he underwent and how he spent a long period condemned in isolation, humiliation, with death constantly hanging over his head. One wonders how strange the world of writing and th ...more
Mar 19, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've never been a fan of Salman Rushdie's genre of magical realism and I've never been able to finish one of his novels, yet I found his memoir "Joseph Anton" compelling.

It's a memoir emphasizing Rushdie's plight as an object of a fatwa called by Muslim leaders and supported by the Iranian government because of his alleged disparaging portrayal of the Prophet Muhammad and his wives in the novel The Satanic Verses.

Critics have argued that Rushdie was careless and should have known that fundament
May 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Rushdie fans
Shelves: non-fiction
Salman Rushdie in Joseph Anton says that that there’s no such thing as ‘ordinary life’. He tells us that he had always liked the idea of the surrealists that the miraculous nature of life on earth was dulled by habituation. The humdrum of daily life prevented people from experiencing the wonders of the world by forming a layer of dust obscuring their vision. It’s the artists who should wipe this layer and make the people aware of the amazement and beauty of the world. This was before he borrowed ...more
Sep 29, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, non-fiction
When Salman Rushdie was abruptly forced into hiding by the declaration of a fatwa against him for his novel, The Satanic Verses, he he combined the fist names of Joseph Conrad and Anton Chekov to create his code name.

Joseph Anton is Rushdie's memoir of those years and the struggles he faced not just to stay alive, but also to have some kind of life behind the wall of protection officers who became his constant companions.

The first third of this book is utterly fascinating. Rushdie faced the wra
On February 14 1989, Salman Rushdie got a call asking how he felt about being sentenced to death. The call was from a journalist who told him that the Ayatollah Khomeini has put a fatwa on him. His novel The Satanic Verses was accused of being “against Islam, the Prophet, and the Quran.” This is a memoir of the 10 years he went into hiding and was under police protection because of this fatwa.

When they asked Rushdie to pick an alias the first thing he did was think of the writers he respected, i
Mar 21, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This was a chore to read. I wanted to quit over and over again, but I felt like I had to persist and finish it anyway. The book could have been 400 pages thinner. It is filled with name dropping, receiving awards and dinner parties. Just when I was about to give up, a good page or two would pop up and keep me going through the next thicket of dreariness.
The book is informative as to just how pathetically the West kowtowed to Iranian terrorism from the late 80's onward. Governments bent over bac
Nov 10, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Salman Rushdie's memoir of his time in hiding during the Ayatollah's fatwa started out very promising - a real life cloak and dagger story! - but became just as tedious as his life probably was during that long, 13 year period. There was a lot of name-dropping of well-known authors, actors and politicians, some who supported him and some who resented him, and a lot of ruminating about the importance of his own work. I skipped a lot of pages just to get through the book. Really can't recommend it ...more
Sep 13, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm glad I read this book, but... wow, what an asshole. And not just because he talks about himself in the third person.

I was curious to understand how Rushdie's life changed after the fatwa, his thoughts on free speech and questioning religious doctrine. Unfortunately this book is mostly about dropping names and trying to get the last word. And there's way too much time spent detailing real estate transactions.

The most disappointing part of the book is his decision to apologize for The Satanic
Oct 15, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012-reads
I was entranced by the fatwa and Salman Rushdie's situation back in 1989. I was a college freshman and I couldn't get my hands on a copy of The Satanic Verses, so I read a mass-market copy of Midnight's Children and then Shame that summer (finally reading the Verses when the Consortium edition was published a few years later). In the 1990s I found myself surprised as Rushdie turned to more pop-culture themes and when his later novels were poorly-reviewed. I haven't read him since Moor's Last Sig ...more
Georgia Roybal
Jan 25, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a detailed description of Salman Rushdie's life during the time he was in hiding due to the fatwa. Many of us after 9/11 can better understand what caused his life to be a nightmare. And a nightmare it was. He details his ups and downs, his tragedies and triumphs with great detail and honesty. At first I had a hard time getting used to the third person, but I really understand why he used third person: it would have been very painful to think of that as yourself. In one section, he ...more
Everyday eBook
Sep 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Everyday by: Naina Sharma
I met Salman Rushdie once at a party. I was reluctantly pulled toward him, while my captor belted out, "SALMAN, YOU ARE HER FAVORITE AUTHOR!" He and I both blinked at each other, aware of the awkwardness of the situation. I stammered out, "Yes, you're my favorite author," and Mr. Rushdie said, "Oh, that's nice. Thank you." Then we both walked away, not wanting to prolong the forced moment. Afterward, I was annoyed with my captor for thrusting me into the meeting so abruptly, without giving me ti ...more
Shonna Froebel
Nov 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This memoir was an eye-opening look at living under threat. Whether it is the actual fear from the threats by Muslim extremists, the restrictions placed on his movements by the police and security officials, the reaction of media, the public reaction or his own family member's reaction, we see the effects on Rushdie's life. Joseph Anton was the pseudonym he chose for the police to use for him during most of this time, initiated once they realized this was not a short term situation.
Salman Rushdi
Asmita Das
Oct 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had pre-ordered this book even before its release and finished in less than a fortnight. It is a page turner -- Rushdie gives a personal account of the nightmarish decade of the fatwa as he fought battles at various ends. Some of the pre-release reviews said that the book provides the reader the required tools of understanding and the urge to go back to his books once again and take another look. However, for me, as I made my way deeper and deeper into the world that became less Rushdie and mo ...more
Dec 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I found this book riveting and it completely changed my view of Salmon Rushdie. During the fatwa, I had the impression that he was a dour, difficult guy who was trying to get attention through provocation. This is how he was pretty much depicted initially by the British press. (And that creepy Richard Avadon photo sure didn't help) Turns out that he is much more compelling and appealing, even funny. He is, of course flawed: Wildly egotistical and self-agrandizing, and extremely harsh on any one ...more
У цьому автобіографічному романі Салман Рушді описує тринадцять років від проголошення фатви до того моменту, коли розвідка нарешті вирішила, що загрози для нього вже немає, і зняла охорону. Джозеф (як Конрад) Антон (як Чехов) - псевдонім Рушді для охорони; відтак, автобіографія, написана від третьої особи і присвячена саме тому відтинку життя письменника, мовби документує роль, породжену цензурою і переслідуваннями. Здавалося б, у нинішньому світі (після атак на "Шарлі", з розростанням ІДІЛ і т ...more
Kasa Cotugno
Ir's no surprise that Rushdie has written so literate a memoir, what surprises is the content. I must admit i've never been a huge fan of his fiction -- I felt it was too oblique for my taste and the cross cultural aspects bogged me down. I also have a silly reason for not having finished the Satanic Verses, the masterwork that caused the Ayatollah Khoumeni, on his deathbed, to issue a fatwa or death sentence against the author, resulting in a 9 year lockdown. After reading this, however, I plan ...more
Feb 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Probably not a 5-star book, but one that I got 5-stars' worth of pleasure listening to--all 27 hours of it. Rushdie knows how to tell a terrific story. He is sensitive and funny, sympathetic, outraged and outrageous, ironic and sardonic, pompous, petulant, sweet, sometimes unreasonable, often understanding, always sparkling with knowledge and intelligence. And hearing the tales of his youth and early adulthood, the reader senses that he had all these qualities well before Iran's fatwa forced him ...more
Sep 19, 2012 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
What a damning damning review:

Waiting for some fireworks from Sir Rushdie!
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Sir Ahmed Salman Rushdie is a novelist and essayist. Much of his early fiction is set at least partly on the Indian subcontinent. His style is often classified as magical realism, while a dominant theme of his work is the story of the many connections, disruptions and migrations between the Eastern and Western world.

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“When...did it become irrational to dislike religion, any religion, even to dislike it vehemently? When did reason get redescribed as unreason? When were the fairy stories of the superstitious placed above criticism, beyond satire? A religion was not a race. It was an idea, and ideas stood (or fell) because they were strong enough (or too weak) to withstand criticism, not because they were shielded from it. Strong ideas welcomed dissent.” 39 likes
“The lessons one learns at school are not always the ones the school thinks it's teaching.” 35 likes
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