4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Well-written but extremely annoying,
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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.