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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Courageous and Cowardly
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...
Published on 22 Sept. 2012 by s k

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars overlong and uneven
I can see why some reviewers took SR to task for his approach in this memoir; he often verges on the narcissistic, and there is too much whining about the many people who disapproved of him, or failed to give wholehearted support during his dark years of fatwa. He can be pretty ugly in his assessment of ex-wives and friends who fell short of his expectations. Way too...
Published on 28 Jan. 2013 by Kernowdog


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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well-written but extremely annoying, 22 Dec. 2012
By 
D. Haven "DvdH" (Hoofddorp, Netherlands) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Joseph Anton (Hardcover)
For starters, I am a great fan of Salman Rushdie's books (with the exception of Fury). They have always dragged me into different worlds where in amazing ways a myriad of storylines that seems to constantly diverge in the end harmoniously converge.
Therefore, I was also very much interested in what Rushdie had to go through during the years he has been in hiding because of Ayatollah Khomeini's fatwa. This book gives some insight into it and provides a look into Rushdie's private life as well. The most interesting part I found the autobiography of everything that led up to him writing The Satanic Verses.
However, in what followed, there was simply too much name dropping: one "brilliant author" hasn't left the story yet and the next "eminent writer" shows up. After 250 pages or so I promised myself that if another literary hero would be mentioned, I'd give up.
And I did give up. Not only because of the continual name dropping, but also because of the way in which Rushdie describes his experiences. All the minute details of his life in hiding are just not interesting enough to fill six hundred pages. Worse, it seems that the only way of dealing with the events, no matter how gruesome it must have been to live through them, was to rationalise them to the extreme. Never ever do we hear about what he feels, about the fear that he must have experienced. Instead, he seems to be more concerned about whether Penguin will release the paperback version of the book or not and where to publish his next book.
Finally, he seems to have a complete lack of empathy: everyone who does not defend him publicly is a coward and no sympathy can be given to those who have come under attack because of his book, such as bookshopkeepers.
This is a well-written book, because Rushdie is simply one of the greatest English authors alive, but the contents make this book hard to get through and eventually simply extremely annoying to read.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An important book that makes for dull reading, 18 Nov. 2012
This review is from: Joseph Anton (Hardcover)
I am an admirer of Salman Rushdie's work; having read all of his fiction he is of course an excellent writer and Midnight's Children is a masterpiece. As such, I had been waiting with eager anticipation for the publication of Joesph Anton, a detailed account of his life during the appalling fatwa, and along with many thousands, pre-ordered my copy. However, I have given up reading it (an act that I normally regard as unforgiveable) because, I am afraid to say, I found it dull.

Despite the importance of the events being described and my admiration for Mr Rushdie himself, the narrative rambles on with a cast of thousands and the same points are repeated over and over again. I really didn't like the way people appear to be divided into either 'for me" or "against me" camps and the latter always being dismissed as either unintelligent, bigotted or with low motives. For a book all about free speach it is ironic that everyone with a different point of view seems to be castigated! I found this quite irritating.

I can't imagine how awful living such a restricted life for years must be and perhaps this is reflected in the style of writing- so I may be being unfair. Nonetheless I did give up and decided to move on to something else.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating book, 5 Dec. 2012
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I have a confession, I haven't yet read any of Rushdie's other books, although I do have 'Midnight's Children' on my Kindle waiting for me, so I cannot be counted a fan. However, the fatwah and his ten years of hiding makes for a fascinating, if uncomfortable, story.

He writes very well but there is an annoying affectation in how he has written the book, it is in the third party as if Josef Anton were someone else. I can understand Rushdie wanting it to be so but it wasn't and at times, for instance when he is relaying conversations, it can be difficult to work out which 'he' or 'him' is meant.

It is an important tale and I would recommend everyone read this.
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5.0 out of 5 stars an astonishing memoir, 21 Nov. 2012
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This review is from: Joseph Anton (Hardcover)
This is a truly astonishing account of years of incarceration under the Khomeini's threat of death after the publication of The Satanic Verses. It is frightening, tragic, depressing, heartwarming, heartbreaking, and occasionally hilariously funny. It is also a brick of a book, so bedtime reading is a workout, but I don't share other criticisms of over-repetition.
Though I lived through the period described in the book I was shocked by how few supported Rushdie, who advocated his death, who blamed him for his woeful position, who disregarded him as he was "ugly"; how both conservative and labour politicians sided with the hate-filled as their constituencies had large Muslim population; how airlines refused to carry him; who was killed or attacked because of the book; and much much more.
It is a wonderful example of the strength of human spirit.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An exhaustive 633-page epic, 25 Sept. 2012
By 
Aanel Victoria (USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Joseph Anton (Hardcover)
The promotions for this book seemed to indicate that it was solely about Rushdie's period of being in hiding from the death sentence issued by the Ayatollah Khomeini.

The first 140 pages of this detailed memoir, however, cover Rushdie's entire life leading up to The Satanic Verses. So it's not about just the Joseph Anton period.

Rushdie's writing is languorous, dreamlike, digressive, reflective, recursive. It's written in third person and moves fairly slowly, with internal ruminations, flashbacks, and changes of time and place.

If you were looking for a fast-paced drama about being a wanted man, this may not be exactly what you were expecting. In that respect, I suspect this book may possibly appeal mainly (but not exclusively) to Salman Rushdie fans, who are familiar with his quite literary and creative voice, and who are interested not only in the Joseph Anton period but also in the rest of his life preceding it, in very detailed form.

If that interests you, then go for it.

If, on the other hand, a very heavy, 633-page languorous epic about 55 years of a man's life may not interest you as much, you may perhaps want to consider waiting till it's less expensive, or more available in paperback, or get it on Kindle where it doesn't weigh as much.

All that said, the book is very enjoyable and well written and intriguing. Eloquent, magisterial, and quite enlightening. A masterpiece in its own right. A most impressive work.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Honest in a true Rushdie style, 16 Feb. 2013
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This autobiography covered more of his life than I expected and was a great insight into the dark days of the fatwa. Its clear that he still carries with him alot of anger and, to a lesser extent, fear aabout those years. He also seems to be very self aware that he did not always make the best decisions and is willing carry the can for his actions.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Writer's Life in Hiding, 21 Mar. 2013
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This review is from: Joseph Anton (Hardcover)
On Valentine's Day, 14 February 1989, Ayatollah Khomeini, the Supreme Leader of Iran, issued a fatwā against Rushdie for his "Satanic Verses". Salman Rushdie called it his Unfunny Valentine. He published Joseph Anton in 2012. A book based on the journals he kept while in hiding.

When the fatwa was declared it did not take the Muslim world long to rise up in in favour of it - Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, South Africa, Sudan, Kenya, Tanzania, Venezuela, all joined in. Muslims in India, Britain and America too thrust themselves into the wave of hate and violence, and joined the frenzy: rioting, burning and demanding Rushdie's death, not having read the Satanic Verses nor fully knowing what it was about. Several bounties too were placed on his head throughout the years he was in hiding.

Salman Rushdie was born in India. He grew up there before going to the UK to study. His father Anis, "a godless man who knew and thought a great deal about God" taught his son to think for himself. He passed down to him "an unwavering insistence on human reason and intellect against religious faith."

As a student in Cambridge Rushdie became interested in the "the rise of Islam". He was fascinated with the culture and he treated the prophet Muhammad with much respect as a man. It is from the Qur'an he got the title for his book: The Satanic Verses. It confused him as to why he was misunderstood by so many, especially by the Muslims. The Satanic Verses of the Qur'an refer to the time when Muhammad, the prophet, came down from the mountain and reported the apparition of Archangel "Gibreel" who had revealed to him three angels. This led the people of Mecca to include the angels in their religion and worship them as goddesses. Later when Muhammad realized their religion was moving to a monotheistic one he changed his story saying it was Satan who had told him about the three angels.

Joseph Anton, the name Rushdie took for himself while in hiding, is related in the third person. The journal spans ten years from the time the fatwa was issued to it being lifted, though not completely lifted. It is still in existence and there is still a bounty on his head. On 24 September 1998, Mohammad Khatami from the Iranian government issued a statement that he neither supported the fatwa nor would he stop anyone else carrying it out.

Rushdie writes of the fear of death, loneliness and pain and the heartache of being separated from his wife and son, Zafar, and not being able to see his friends and the rest of his family. He lived in hiding and endured constant threat of death. Much of the book reads like a thriller. His Japanese editor was murdered, his Norwegian publisher shot, his Italian translator stabbed, many died in riots protesting against the Satanic verses, his effigy and his books burned.

Freedom loving people all over the world took up the cause freedom of thought and the freedom of the written word. Names influential politicians, well-known writers, publishers, famous film and theatre celebrities are generously interwoven into his story of life in hiding. Majority of them tried to help him and spoke for the need to uphold freedom of speech. But The British Government remained on the fence never officially denouncing the fatwa. But it gave him protection.

It hurt him that some writers he greatly admired were against him. The Guardian attacked him for not withdrawing the novel. Once in 1990 Rushdie met with Muslim leaders offering to proclaim his faith in Islam but he would not withdraw the paperback "Satanic Verses" nor apologize for writing it. The meeting solved nothing and later he was ashamed that he had even offered to meet with them. Rushdie tells us his mother, then living in Pakistan, received support and comfort and were never threatened. Neither were any members of family and friends in India and England.

During this time of his hiding he also went through personal problems. He had "no one to fulfill his deepest needs." His first wife Clarissa died of cancer, his second and third marriages broke up, his fourth to a model-actress, and TV host fell apart. Reading about the behavior of the wives I feel he had a capacity to attract some of the worst women.

In 16 June 2007 Rushdie was knighted by Queen for his great contribution to English literature: Sir Salman Rushdie. Many of the Muslim countries were outraged. Al-Qaeda condemned the Rushdie honour. "An insult to Islam" they screamed.

Rushdie tells us exactly what he was feeling and doing throughout his long banishment from normal life. But this work does not have the imagination and the wonderful style his writing is famous for, nor does it contain much humour. At times it is as if there is too much name-dropping. He is also quite annoyed with the pressure of twenty-four-hour security service, he found it restricting, I felt this annoyance for his own safety arrangements unreasonable, a little lacking in gratitude. I was not comfortable reading this book in the third person. The author, Salman Rushdie, whom I greatly admire, and for whose life I feared while reading the book, loomed up before me ever present and I found it disconcerting, and confusing each time he referred to himself in the third person "He".

This hardcover of 636 pages of purple, almost suede like cover is pleasure to hold and feel, and pages well laid out and good font size makes it a comfortable read.

Leela Panikar ©
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4.0 out of 5 stars Yes, read this., 29 Jun. 2014
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Initially fascinating, then a little over detailed account of a life led in such ridiculous circumstances that it seemed more like one of his fictional characters. But the detail proved vital for the final denouement, which for me - even knowing the outcome as everyone of course does - was both inspiring and very moving, and worth reading the whole book just for the final chapter. Now I'll go and read his novels!
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5.0 out of 5 stars A magnificent defence of literary freedom, 25 July 2013
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This review is from: Joseph Anton (Kindle Edition)
In this account of that part of his life spent under threat of death for writing a novel, Salman Rushdie sets the record straight by presenting his version of events for the first time . The book is both a gripping account of his life under the fatwa, and a ringing defence of the importance of creative literature, and its need to be free of political or religious censorship.

Rushdie (justifiably) settles a number of scores. While fulsome in his praise of the rank and file protection officers who kept him safe, he is outspoken about the behaviour of their seniors who insisted on his virtual imprisonment as the price for continuing to protect him. All the while, of course, we all assumed (assisted by a mendacious and hostile press) that it was his own faint-heartedness that kept him in hiding.

He is highly critical of politicians, both Tory (Douglas Hurd, as I think was no secret anyway, wouldn't recognise a principle if it hit him in the face) and many on the left, who were already starting their hideous love affair with far-right Islamism. Also of religious leaders of all persuasions, who closed ranks against a secular writer who had the temerity to offend some of their number.

He is also unsparing of his own behaviour, and this gives credibility to the book.

There are heroes too, however. Michael Foot and Jill Craigie, Neil Kinnock (all representing an older, more principled leftism), and many of Rushdie's fellow writers (though with some sad exceptions, such as Roald Dahl and John Le Carre).

Mainly, however, this is a beautifully-written and gripping story, whose overall impression is one of the eventual triumph of art over bigotry. Read it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Really really good!, 4 July 2013
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This review is from: Joseph Anton (Kindle Edition)
No commas in the title on purpose! Rushdie is a real master of the English language and I felt he related the sorry tale of his 'house arrest' (I know it was worse than this) and very serious death threat, honestly and with much wisdom. I enjoyed The Satanic Verses when I first read it, but will read it again now. He's a sucker for beautiful, young women (which always annoys me about any influential older man) but he is, no doubt, a great writer.
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Joseph Anton
Joseph Anton by Salman Rushdie (Hardcover - 18 Sept. 2012)
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