Friday, September 28, 2012

Joseph Anton by Salman Rushdie

JOSEPH ANTON is the alter ego of Salman Rushdie, a combination of Joseph Conrad and Anton Chekhov. This memoir details his life under guises and protection from a death sentence fatwa issued by the Ayatollah Khomeini in 1989 for his novel "The Satanic Verses." Now, he says, if he'd known what the reaction would have been, he would have been more critical of Iran. How does one fight for freedom of speech against those who don't believe in such freedom? How does he conduct his life and work as a writer in the public eye while being under the threat of death? Rushdie answers these questions with a memoir of his life since 1989, the people he's met, and with a behind-the-scenes look at publishing, culture, and religion. It's a fascinating account, well written and openly defiant, as he questions why anyone has the right to censor a work of fiction without even bothering to read the book or understand what he was saying. The biography, issued at a time when U.S. embassies are being attacked worldwide for (supposedly) a fictional movie release is only a coincidence. Unlike that idiotic and unfortunate film, this biography has been much longer in the making, and its author is no idiot. Read on audio by Sam Dastor, the book comes up against many Middle Eastern critics whose response to criticism is not reason or argument, but firebombs. 

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