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Wednesday, December 27, 2017

JOSEPH ANTON: A MEMOIR (audiobook) by Salman Rushdie

Published in 2012 by Random House Audio
Duration: 26 hours, 59 minutes
Read by Sam Dastor

For most people, Salman Rushdie is, and will always be, that author that the Iranians tried to have killed all of those years ago. I freely admit that this is an accurate description of me. Although I am an avid reader, this is the first Salman Rushdie book that I have even contemplated reading. 
Salman Rushdie. Photo by Andrew Lih.

Rushdie narrates this autobiography in the third person, which is a little weird and gave me the impression that he is trying to distance himself a bit from his own story.

The biggest chunk of Joseph Anton tells about how Rushdie dealt with the fatwa, or ruling against him and his book The Satanic Verses by the leader of the Iranian Revolution himself, the Ayatollah Khomeini. Khomeini ruled that the author, the publishers and the editors of the book should die for blasphemy and that anyone who died in an attempt to kill them would be considered a martyr. This caused Rushdie to go into hiding and be officially under police protection provided by the British government. Joseph Anton became his code name.

Rushdie the "icon" - the man who came to symbolize the intolerance of government-sponsored religion and offered a real-life preview to the dangers of radical Islam - and Rushdie the actual man are quite different people. I admire iconic Rushdie, but everyday life Rushdie is hard to like sometimes. Rushdie is often brutally honest about his friends and colleagues and their shortcomings - as he saw them. I can only imagine that many of his friends read this book and were horrified at how they were portrayed.

The book ends with a moving account of the 9/11 attacks on New York City, his adopted hometown. It makes a elegant bookend to a book that basically is about Islamic terror aimed at one person that morphs into terror aimed at an entire city.

The reader, Sam Dastor, was excellent. Interestingly, he is also the reader of the audiobook version of The Satanic Verses.

I rate this audiobook 3 stars out of 5. Way too long and too many uncomfortable comments about the author's supposed friends.

This audiobook can be found on Amazon.com here: Joseph Anton: A Memoir by Salman Rushdie. 

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