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Joseph Anton: A Memoir Audio CD – Audiobook, 18 Sep 2012

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Product details

  • Audio CD: 22 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Audio Publishing Group; Unabridged edition (18 Sep 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0449807819
  • ISBN-13: 978-0449807811
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 5.7 x 15.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,566,309 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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 and Shalimar the Clown. 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.

Product Description


"Joseph Anton is a book that makes you laugh. It makes you sympathise. It may even scare you. It should also make you — if you believe that freedom is essential — very, very angry." (David Aaronovitch The Times)

"[I]t may be the most important book of our times – comparable, in a sense, to Primo Levi’s If This Is a Man." (Rod Liddle Spectator)

"Joseph Anton demonstrates Mr. Rushdie's ability as a stylist and storyteller... Defenders of Enlightenment values, regardless of what they think of Mr. Rushdie the novelist, must acknowledge the fact that, when threatened, Salman Rushdie—Joseph Anton—reacted with great bravery and even heroism." (Michael C Moynihan Wall Street Journal)

"Funny, painfully moving and absolutely necessary to read." (Nicholas Shakespeare Daily Telegraph)

"Started Joseph Anton last night and got annoyed that I eventually had to interrupt it by sleeping. Reads like a thriller... going back in..." (Dylan Jones (Editor, GQ) Twitter)

"Joseph Anton is a splendid book, the finest new memoir to cross my desk in many a year." (Jonathan Yardley Washington Post)

"Written in the third person – the author is always “he”. This turns out to be a good decision: experience is kept at a novelistic distance;...Rushdie is able to write with remarkable frankness about highly intimate things." (Fintan O’Toole Irish Times)

"Frank and…more gripping than any spy story…the prose makes for powerful reading... He is a great writer who has been brave." (Margaret Drabble Observer)

"Joseph Anton...reminds us of his fecund gift for language and his talent for explicating the psychological complexities of family and identity... [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 New York Times)

"Though Rushdie is a very serious literary novelist, he holds his own with Jon Stewart and proves that he's actually kind of a funny guy." (Huffington Post)

"Joseph Anton conveys a clear and shaming picture of his ordeal… The reader is fully on Rushdie’s side." (Pankaj Mishra Guardian)

"A frank and zestful memoir...a precious historical document and an immersive page-turning read...pacey, intimate, surreal, whipped along by love and scorn and overflowing with tall exerts a mesmeric hold with high-octane storytelling." (Boyd Tonkin Independent)

"The book speaks to the heart, and to conscience." (John Lloyd Financial Times)

"An indispensable text that needs no description." (Margaret Drabble New Statesman)

"The most gripping, moving and entertaining literary memoir I have ever read." (Amanda Craig Independent on Sunday)

"The story Rushdie tells is never less than gripping." (Colin McCabe New Statesman)

"A magnificent new memoir." (Matthew d’Ancona Evening Standard)

"This moving, sometimes irritating, often beautiful and blissfully funny memoir is also a resounding manifesto, reminding us that novelists have a right and duty to tackle the most controversial subjects." (Jake Kerridge Sunday Express)

"His big, bold, controversial memoir…matches Rushdie’s confident personality." (Ian Finlayson The Times)

"[A book that] rattles with the terror of the moment." (Graeme Wood Barnes & Noble Review)

"The big book of the week was Salman Rushdie's memoir Joseph Anton" (Guardian)

"It’s an extraordinary document." (Anthony Cummins Metro)

"Rushdie says art outlasts persecution, but artists may not. A look at how this dichotomy has played out in his life." (Salil Tripathi Live Mint)

"Joseph Anton is as riveting for the small vignettes as the big, historical sweep." (Ginny Dougary Financial Times)

"Reads like a thriller...painfully true." (Robert McCrum Observer)

"He is compelling here...grippingly reconstructing his long years in hiding." (Robert Collins Sunday Times)

"[N]ot many Americans had heard of Rushdie until Valentines Day, 1989, when the dying Ayatollah Khomeni of Iran issued the infamous fatwa calling for Rushdie’s head... Rushdie spent most of the next decade in hiding, accompanied by armed British agents. He’s now published his account of that stranger-than-fiction time: Joseph Anton: A Memoir." (Kurt Andersen Studio 360)

"Aside from the vivid, splendidly told account of his childhood and family background, Rushdie's book charts in, fascinating, grimly humourous detail, the shadowy half-life he lived until that fatwah was lifted on March 27, 2002." (Paddy Kehoe RTE Ten)

"Funny and painful." (Nicholas Shakespeare Daily Telegraph)

"An honest and lyrical memoir that is quite fascinating." (The Economist)

"What most strikes me about the book are the fierce determination with which he fought to regain control of his life and the bracing wit that kept his feet firmly anchored on the ground." (Jonathan Yardley Washington Post)

"A page-turner." (Independent)

"A transfixing account of nine years spent in hiding, at once overtly political and deeply personal.Religion and secularism, truth and falsity, friendship and enmity, hope and despair, bravery and cowardice, love and betrayal collide in the pages to form a highly charged battleground of ideas about a world poised for an uncertain future." (The Hindu)

"An honest and remarkable memoir. Joseph Anton is an extraordinary account of the author's life, full of extreme highs and intense lows... Salman Rushdie's memoir 'Joseph Anton' has truly been one of the most awaited autobiographies of the year and will make for a priceless read in the years to come." (Times of India)

"A fine book, honest and clever." (Business Standard)

"As combustible and expansive as a vintage Russian novel." (India Today)

"An important and necessary book which artfully bears the burden of many histories.Written in the third person as if it were a novel, the book is many other books too: a testament of survival, a political statement about freedom of expression; a gossipnama; and an archive of what may, in retrospect, turn out to be a crucial moment in the tangled history of East and West....Joseph Anton announces that Rushdie, man and writer, survives, thrives and continues to surprise." (Sunday Guardian)

"Beautifully crafted...personal and political histories come together in a wonderfully lively way." (People)

"Joseph Anton is a masterpiece...Salman Rushdie scales a new zenith of sublime brilliance which casts a spell on the reader." (Sahara Time)

"Will engage, shock and illuminate the reader into the mind and life of one of contemporary English literature’s most consummate storytellers." (Mid Day)

"A great read, wise and often aphoristic (in the best sense of the word)." (Akash Kapur)

"Critics have focused on Rushdie’s celebrity life..but to read Joseph Anton only through that lens is to miss the best: Rushdie’s impassioned arguments for the freedom of people to write, read, think and chose for themselves." (Nilanjana Roy)

"A riveting read for all. I cannot recommend it enough. All of its six hundred and thirty three pages." (IBN Live)

"Like the memoir's third-person point of view, the alias title lends disassociation and discomfort to all its pages, subtly and brilliantly reflecting Rushdie's state of mind during those years in hiding. . . . Rushdie's remarkable memoir, as any memoir, is one version of the truth. But it is a thoughtful and astute version, a narrative so rich that if it were fiction, it would win fiction awards … if only it were fiction. 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)

"A gripping, firsthand account of an important battle for artistic freedom." (Los Angeles Times)

"[R]iveting. . . . In 10 dramatic chapters, Joseph Anton captures the career of a fallible writer who struggled to sustain the fragile life of the imagination." (San Francisco Chronicle)

"Gripping and, weirdly, often hilarious . . . Joseph Anton beautifully modulates between such moments of accidental hilarity, and the higher purpose Rushdie saw in opposing — at all costs — any curtailment on a writer’s freedom to say what he or she wants." (Boston Globe)

"Aspects of a spy novel, a writer’s autobiography and a victim’s affidavit pulsing with resentment and fear combine to reveal a man’s dawning awareness of the primacy of freedom." (Kirkus)

"Rushdie accomplishes many wondrous and momentous feats in this profound and galvanizing memoir…. A unique, intimate, and resounding memoir elucidating what literature does for us and why artistic and intellectual freedoms truly are matters of life and death." (Booklist)


Rushdie’s memoir is many books in one book. It’s a personal story that takes place at the

center of an international crisis. . . . It’s a portrait of the artist as a young man that describes his influences,obsessions and ambitions. . . .It’s a record of his relocation from Bombay to London to New York. . . . It’s an intimate tale of fathers and sons, of the beginnings and ends of marriages, of friendships and betrayals. At the same time, Joseph Anton is a large-scale spectacle of political and cultural conflicts. . . . of the continuing struggle between religious belief in the immutable word of God on one hand and secular faith in the unconditional right of free speech on the other.

" (New York Times Book Review)

"Rushdie has written in Joseph Anton an engrossing memoir in the third person that shows all his virtues as a novelist." (Darryl Accone Mail and Guardian)

"The third person voice adds another veil of objectivity to what is a deeply personal, passionate memoir." (Business Day) --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Book Description

A compelling and frank account of one of the most extraordinary stories in recent literary history - Salman Rushdie and the fatwa. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By s k on 22 Sep 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Joseph Anton is a gargantuan memoir that reads like a novel. There are goodies and baddies, and the final prize is the most coveted one of all: freedom of speech. But this structure of extremes isn't the only novelistic flourish. Curiously, it is narrated in the third person, a distancing technique employed to give a little objectivity to the account, a way of having it function as a historical and unbiased document. But it doesn't work, and it's not long before Salman Rushdie's boiling anger explodes at the fatwa's pernicious aftermath. And why shouldn't it?

The book's early pages quickly retrace the years leading up to Ayatollah Khomeini's fatwa of 14 February 1989. It is a vibrant account, and one that documents his colourful journey from India to England, Rugby School to Cambridge University, ad work to literary fame. Brutally candid, Rushdie admits his past infidelities and lapses into arrogance, his atheism and Enlightenment values. He investigates his post-fatwa motivations and wavering thoughts with an exemplary ruthlessness, the low point being his ill-conceived affirmation of Islamic faith. This, he insists, may have been his easily avoidable nadir, but it was also the catalyst that brought about his intellectual rebirth.

During this time he still managed to write and undergo love's confusing fluctuations. The gestations of his novels during the fatwa years make for intriguing reading, his admittance to being emotionally and intellectually stumped revealing a fallible side to his perfect poise. His public persona and assured voice may have seemed undimmed, but this was due to a torturous rebuilding of the self. But what of love during these years? Well, who knows what Marianne Wiggins, Rushdie's second wife, will make of her portrayal in this book?
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34 of 38 people found the following review helpful By S Riaz HALL OF FAMETOP 10 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 21 Sep 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Joseph Anton was the alias that Salman Rushdie chose (a combination taken from Conrad and Chekhov) when he was in hiding, after being 'sentenced to death' after publication of "The Satanic Verses". On a sunny morning in London in 1989, a few months after the book had been published, a call from a BBC reporter changed his life. "How does it feel to know that you have been sentenced to death by the Ayatollah Khomeini?" she asked. With those few words, everything changed for him forever. In his Islington house, Salman Rushdie, understandably, shuttered the windows and locked the door. When he later left for an interview, he had no idea that he would not sit foot in the house again for many years...

This memoir is always totally honest and never less than gripping, especially in the first half of this enormous book. The author discusses his education, family, relationships and his behaviour during those incredibly stressful years with immense openness. During the first two or three years of the fatwa, Rushdie was constantly on the move, reliant on his friends for places to stay. His second marriage was less than a year old at the time and already in trouble, so the stress and intrusion certainly did not help that situation either. The author was criticised, even at the time his life was in danger, by press articles claiming he was costing the country huge amounts of money, the government were imposing limits on what he was allowed to do (including how and when he could see his beloved son) and he was accused of selfishness for wanting to publish a paperback version of "The Satanic Verses" when the lives of hostages, such as Terry Waite, hung in the balance. Eventually, he would almost be blamed for being an author, for writing, for opening his mouth or putting pen to paper.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Ripple TOP 100 REVIEWER on 24 Oct 2012
Format: Hardcover
Salman Rushdie's memoir of, predominantly, the fatwa years is completely gripping - albeit not necessarily in the way the author intended I suspect. For any lover of literature it's a fascinating insight into the man. People write memoirs largely to put their side of the story. Rushdie is of course supremely intelligent and a gifted wordsmith and yet while aspects of the story remain shocking and induce both anger and incredulity that the situation was allowed to go as far as it did and for so long, it's probably not a book that will change your views of Rushdie the man, not least as he displays many of the traits that the press ascribed to him. Oh why do our heroes always have to be so imperfect?

Usually people referring to themselves in the third person is guaranteed to irritate me, although here the story is told entirely in the third person. The title "Joseph Anton" is the name he chose when asked to provide a pseudonym for the security services. As a result the book reads as much more like a novel and it works well.

To try to impose some structure on this review of what is a lengthy tome, let's look at three key elements: the "crime", the "punishment" and the "perpetrator".

He fails to address any intent or otherwise in the apparently inflammatory content of "The Satanic Verses". If you have read the book in question, you'll know that the allegedly offending content is minimal to the overall book's structure. It's not much more than a dream sequence. Certainly it would be hard to argue that the book as a whole is an attack on Islam. And yet of course, this is exactly what happened. Did he know what sort of reaction this might evoke? Perhaps as that oxymoronic thing, a secular Muslim, he ought to have done but we never really get to the bottom of this.
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