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Joseph Anton: A Memoir | [Salman Rushdie]

Joseph Anton: A Memoir

On February 14, 1989, Valentine's Day, Salman Rushdie was telephoned by a BBC journalist and told that he had been "sentenced to death" by the Ayatollah Khomeini. For the first time he heard the word fatwa. His crime? To have written a novel called The Satanic Verses, which was accused of being "against Islam, the Prophet and the Quran". So begins the extraordinary story of how a writer was forced underground, moving from house to house, with the constant presence of a police protection team.
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Publisher's Summary

On February 14, 1989, Valentine's Day, Salman Rushdie was telephoned by a BBC journalist and told that he had been "sentenced to death" by the Ayatollah Khomeini. For the first time he heard the word fatwa. His crime? To have written a novel called The Satanic Verses, which was accused of being "against Islam, the Prophet and the Quran".

So begins the extraordinary story of how a writer was forced underground, moving from house to house, with the constant presence of an armed police protection team. He was asked to choose an alias that the police could call him by. He thought of writers he loved and combinations of their names; then it came to him: Conrad and Chekhov - Joseph Anton.

How do a writer and his family live with the threat of murder for more than nine years? How does he go on working? How does he fall in and out of love? How does despair shape his thoughts and actions, how and why does he stumble, how does he learn to fight back? In this remarkable memoir Rushdie tells that story for the first time; the story of one of the crucial battles, in our time, for freedom of speech. He talks about the sometimes grim, sometimes comic realities of living with armed policemen, and of the close bonds he formed with his protectors; of his struggle for support and understanding from governments, intelligence chiefs, publishers, journalists, and fellow writers; and of how he regained his freedom.

It is a book of exceptional frankness and honesty, compelling, provocative, moving, and of vital importance. Because what happened to Salman Rushdie was the first act of a drama that is still unfolding somewhere in the world every day.

This audiobook includes a prologue read by the author.

©2012 Salmon Rushdie (P)2012 Random House Audio

What the Critics Say

"In Salman Rushdie... India has produced a glittering novelist -one with startling imaginative and intellectual resources, a master of perpetual storytelling." (The New Yorker)

"Salman Rushdie has earned the right to be called one of our great storytellers." (The Observer)

"Our most exhilaratingly inventive prose stylist, a writer of breathtaking originality." (Financial Times)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.8 (233 )
5 star
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3.9 (198 )
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4.1 (203 )
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Amazon Customer Santa Fe, NM, United States 11-13-12
    Amazon Customer Santa Fe, NM, United States 11-13-12

    Hare & There

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Beautiful. Witty. Heartbreaking. Human."

    Having never read any of Rushdie's books, I decided to take on this memoir based on his fame and well-known situation. First, I must say that the narrator was WONDERFUL. Second, I'm still listening. This is not a book to listen to in a rush or all at once. Best to listen for a bit at a time, so you can digest what you are receiving and roll it around in your mind before moving forward. Thoughtful. Intelligent. Profoundly human. Very entertaining in a subtle manner. I loved this one.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jack The Woodlands, TX, United States 11-05-12
    Jack The Woodlands, TX, United States 11-05-12 Member Since 2010
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    "Really surprised I enjoyed it this much."

    I would rate this in the top 10 out of the 75 books I have listened to. The narrator was excellent - switching into different voices that were very entertaining. Rushdie's writing was very smooth and enjoyable. Satanic Verses is next on my list to listen to.

    Way to go Joe... :)

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sabine St Petersburg, FL, United States 11-05-12
    Sabine St Petersburg, FL, United States 11-05-12 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Long, but interesting"

    It was very difficult to listen to the high Oxford English of Sam Dastor combined with the long, descriptive writing of Salman Rushdie, but it was interesting to hear about his plight of 14 years. I remember the initial incident, but never that it ended or when. It was interesting enough that I purchased the Satanic Verses just to see what all the fuss was about. That is another reveiw...

    This book could have been so much shorter though...really, there was much we did not need to hear. But I think it was a cleansing for Rushdie, to get out all of this thoughts, emotions & frustrations. I hope he feels better.

    Sam Dastor was an interesting narrator. It took a long while to get used to the accent. But by the time I finished it was OK and I was actually happy that he was narrating the Satanic Verses. The way he changes voices and accents and also spouts off multiple names from different cultures was amazing. If reading the book, I would have tripped over all the crazy Inidan names. But he did it effortlessly.

    I can't imagine hanging in to READ this book though. Far too descriptive. But listening in the car...not so bad...even if my mind drifted frequently.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    GORDON 11-05-12
    GORDON 11-05-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "This is a very good solid work and reading."
    What did you love best about Joseph Anton?

    This is the story of one man's fight to stay alive. He did nothing but tell stories and found himself in the middle of a storm that no person should have to face in an age well past the "Age of Enlightenment."


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Joseph Anton?

    Most memorable in this work was the history of Salman's struggle with the consequences of writing a novel. The evil forces in the world and how organized religion has no place in the world of free speech was in this work, put on a plate for examination.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The entire book is a history of the attack on free speech in the 20th and 21st century.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    The man and those around him faced true hardship but carried and how Salman was so very honest about his behavior in the face of unbelievable attacks.


    Any additional comments?

    This a great followup to questions which remain and persist on where we stand as free loving western people against the forces of darkness.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dugan Arvada, CO, United States 10-27-12
    Dugan Arvada, CO, United States 10-27-12 Member Since 2010

    dugand5

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "20 years perspective may be too early"
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    At his best, Mr. Rushdie offers his insights and perspective of his own experience as harbinger of the age of Islamic terrorism. Mildly interesting is his detailed recounting of the proud support of allies and the insults and betrayals of bad actors. But what really bedevils this book is his obsessive chronicling of mundane events inside his golden cage. I would not recommend the bood to a friend because there is not enough of insight or perspective to make wading through the settling of scores and diary-like review of events satisfying. The best part of the book is the prologue. My advice: read that and then read one his fiction books. Leave this one for the graduate students.


    What was most disappointing about Salman Rushdie’s story?

    That the writer was so possessed of his own story, that he failed to consider his reader and tell an interesting story.


    Which character – as performed by Sam Dastor and Salman Rushdie – was your favorite?

    Some of the police officers are rendered sympathetically.


    Could you see Joseph Anton being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

    Of course this will be a movie and Daniel Craig or Daniel Day-Lewis will play Salman Rushdie and get nominated for an oscar because they managed to so convincingly convert themselves from all the past roles we have seen them play.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mark 10-03-12
    Mark 10-03-12 Member Since 2013
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    "I couldn't stop listening"

    I love Salman Rushdie's fiction and this memoir matches up with the best of it. It is very artfully crafted and the level of prose blows other memoirs out of the water. I read a fair number of biographies and auto-biographies; the sections on the subject's childhood is usually intolerable--full of incidents the author thinks are symbolic and often made worse by pop-psychoanalysis. Rushdie's childhood story is at the other end of the spectrum. He uses it to talk about religion and literature and all sorts of cool things you wouldn't expect to come up in a section of boyhood stories.

    The narrator is very good, but Rushdie read the introduction and I do wish he had read the entire book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    john GLEN ALLEN, VA, United States 09-24-12
    john GLEN ALLEN, VA, United States 09-24-12 Member Since 2009

    Love history and non-fiction. Working on reading and or listening to the top 100 classics too.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Bored to death"
    Any additional comments?

    I feel horrible giving 1 star ratings to someones true life story. It just bored me to death. I'm sure other people will enjoy the listen but it was not for me. I listened to it 3x fast and still couldn’t find one section of the book that stimulated me. I have less then ¼ to go but I just don’t think I can bare it.That being said I bought this in part to support Salman Rushdie. I have a tremendous amount sympathy and respect for him and his books, just not this one.

    7 of 18 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jordan 05-02-14
    Jordan 05-02-14

    santjordi

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "This really suffers from a bad narrator"
    What disappointed you about Joseph Anton?

    The narration.
    Rushdie;s telling his autobiography in the third person.
    His inability to see how he contributed to horrible interpersonal problems.
    The feeling that most of the time he was in hiding he made lists of people wh supported him and those who did him wrong


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    The narrator's "voices" as he does 'characters' is just awful, It continuously yanks you out of the story and back to the fact that you're listening to an audio book. Especially disturbing as he imitates Marianne Wiggins, Rushdie's wife, but it is universally oafish


    What character would you cut from Joseph Anton?

    Ugly portrayal of his wife.


    Any additional comments?

    If Rushdie had written in the first person, he mght have realized how whiny he sounds in much of the book

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Shax Chicago, IL United States 09-05-13
    Shax Chicago, IL United States 09-05-13
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    4
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    "Narcissistic Entitlement"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    Better text - Rushdie entitlement is repugnant


    Has Joseph Anton turned you off from other books in this genre?

    No - I love memoir. Rather Joseph Anton should be embarrassed to be included with real self-reflective nonfiction, a genre of culpability and honesty, which uses the courageous first person instead of hiding behind "he."


    What about Sam Dastor and Salman Rushdie ’s performance did you like?

    The author's supercilious attitude was perfectly captured.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    Fascinating story - I was hoping for enlightenment about a world that censors free speech and expression, but instead only heard how highly the author regarded himself, as he endlessly outlined his global impact and recounted his accolades (and trashed his detractors and ex-wives). There was no self-awareness, just a one-sided diatribe that obscured what could have been an in-depth reflection on the current religious fanaticism.


    Any additional comments?

    Don't give Rushdie another thought; just give him the number of a good shrink.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
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