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Salman Rushdie, author of Joseph Anton, speaks to M&G

Salman Rushdie, author of Joseph Anton, speaks to M&G

"I invent in the book this imaginary newspaper called the Daily Insult... For me that was a really difficult aspect of this because if enough mud is thrown with sufficient force it sticks, and I think that for a long time a lot of people, in England anyway and beyond England, because these stories got repeated, began to think of me as this very ungrateful, egomaniacal, greedy, profane with money, opportunistic kind of immoral person who didn’t, who wasn’t worthy of public sympathy. And you know that was so strange. I truly never understood why that assault on my character took place from, if you like, non-Islamic sources. There is still some residue of that I think."

To read the full interview, go to Mail and Guardian

About Joseph Anton:

A compelling and frank account of one of the most extraordinary stories in recent literary history - Salman Rushdie and the fatwa.

On 14 February 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 over 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.

Click here for more information about Joseph Anton: A Memoir

» Author: Salman Rushdie
» Title: Joseph Anton
» ISBN: 9780224093972
» Format: Hardcover
» Release Date: September 2012
» Imprint: Jonathan Cape
» Pages: 656
» Price: R295.00

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