The three most important parts of a book are: a well constructed plot, compelling characters, and a satisfying conclusion.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

JOSEPH ANTON: A Memoir by Salman Rushdie (Reviewed by WC)

Joseph Anton by Salman RushdiePublisher:  Random House
Release Date:  September 2012
Pages:  657

About the Book:  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.

“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
 
“Thoughtful and astute . . . This is an important book not only because of what it has to say about a man of principle who, under the threat of violence and death, stood firm for freedom of speech and freedom of religion, but also because of its implications about our times and fanatical religious intolerance in a frighteningly fragile world.”—USA Today (4 out of 4 stars)


WC's Review:  Salman Rushdie awoke on Valentine's Day of 1989 to a life changing surprise. "Fatwa", the Islam sentence of death, had just been imposed by the Ayatollah Khomeini upon the then relatively unknown writer. Rushdie was accused of defaming Islam, the Prophet and the Quran through the publication of his controversial novel, "The Satanic Verses."
Rushdie immediately goes underground fearing not only his life, but the lives of his women and his beloved son, Zafar. This is a story of his struggle to survive while combating forces against free thought and free speech. Rushdie manages to live with bouts of depression and infrequent moments of joy while awaiting the abolition of censorship and alienation, and the tyranny of evil.
A good, thought provoking story. 


The Author - Salman Rushdie
Sir Salman Rushdie is the author of many novels including Grimus, Midnight's Children, Shame, The Satanic Verses, The Moor's Last Sigh, The Ground Beneath Her Feet, Fury, Shalimar the Clown and The Enchantress of Florence. He has also published works of non-fiction including, The Jaguar Smile, Imaginary Homelands, The Wizard of Oz and, as co-editor, The Vintage Book of Short Stories.

He has received many awards for his writing including the European Union's Aristeion Prize for Literature. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres. In 1993 Midnight's Children was judged to be the 'Booker of Bookers', the best novel to have won the Booker Prize in its first 25 years. In June 2007 he received a knighthood in the Queen's Birthday Honours.