Saturday, February 24, 2018
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This is latest in offering by the controversial and famous Indian born novelist, Salman Rushdie.  He has written ten novels, one collection of short stories, three works of non-fiction.  In 1993, Midnight's Children was judged to be the Best of the Booker, the best novel to have won the Booker Prize in its forty year history.  The Satanic Verses is the work which he is most correlated with.  This work of his changed his life and his entire outlook. His memoir is a compelling and frank account of one of the most extraordinary stories in recent literary history.

Going back in time, 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 Ayatollah Khomeini.  For the first time he heard the word fatwa and his crime was 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 who 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.  The title is the name Rushdie adopted while undercover, taken from his favourite writers Joseph Conrad and Anton Chekhov.

SUMMARY:  The book unfolds how the writer and his family lived with the threat of murder for over nine years.  Even under those circumstances, how did he continue to work?  How does he fall in and out of love?  How does despair shape his thoughts and actions?  How and why does he stumble and 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.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Salman Rushdie was born in 19 June 1947.  He is a renowned British Indian novelist and essayist.  He is said to combine magical realism with historical fiction.  His first novel, Grimus, a part-science fiction tale, was generally ignored by the public and literary critics.  His next novel, Midnight's Children, catapulted him to literary notability.  This work won the 1981 Booker Prize and, in 1993 and 2008, was awarded the Best of the Bookers as the best novel to have received the prize during its first 25 and 40 years.  After Midnight's Children, Rushdie wrote Shame (1983), in which he depicts the political turmoil in Pakistan, basing his characters on Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq.  Shame won France's Prix du Meilleur Livre Étranger (Best Foreign Book) and was a close runner-up for the Booker Prize.  His fourth novel, The Satanic Verses (1988) was the centre of a major controversy provoking protests from Muslims in several countries, some violent.  Death threats were made against him, including a fatwā issued by Ayatollah Khomeini, the Supreme Leader of Iran, on 14 February 1989.  Rushdie was appointed Commandeur de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres of France in January 1999.  In June 2007, Queen Elizabeth II knighted him for his services to literature.  In 2008, The Times ranked him thirteenth on its list of the fifty greatest British writers since 1945. 

MY TAKE:  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 everyday.  If you are a follower of Rushdie's work you would definitely not give this a miss.  If not then also could give it a try as presentation and style would really mesmerize you and make you a fan of his work.



BOOK:  Joseph Anton: A Memoir

AUTHOR: Salman Rushdie

PUBLISHER:  Jonathan Cape


LANGUAGE:  English



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