Joseph Anton Paperback – 1 Aug 2013
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"Joseph Anton is a splendid book, the finest new memoir to cross my desk in many a year" (Jonathan Yardley Washington Post)
"Funny, painfully moving and absolutely necessary to read" (Nicholas Shakespeare Daily Telegraph)
"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 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)
"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." (New York Times Book Review)
A frank and compelling account of one of the most extraordinary stories in recent history, from the author of Midnight’s Children.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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?Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
fascinating. I now look forward to Midnight's Children and Satanic VersesPublished 5 months ago by DR D C SHOVE
The writing is fine and, long as it is, I was always going to finish it, more to find out the detail of Rushdie's experiences during his years in hiding than for any particular... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Madmoose
Delicious insight into the British intelligentsia of the the 90s and 00's. Beautifully written and gripping, but for Rushdie readers only.Published 8 months ago by Lina
Slightly irritated by the use of the third person narration but otherwise fascinated by Salman Rushdie's own description of his life following the fatwa issued by the Ayatollah. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Amazon Customer
Early in Joseph Anton Salman Rushdie contrasts the Christian poles of Guilt and Redemption with the Islamic ones of Honour and Shame, and indeed this memoir of a cultural Muslim is... Read morePublished 18 months ago by Nic Allen
Have not read it yet, but Rushdie is a good author, I don't think I will be disappointed.Published 22 months ago by D. A. Sinclair