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  • Published: 18 September 2012
  • ISBN: 9781448155484
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: Audio Download
  • Length: 26 hr 58 min
  • Narrator: Sam Dastor, Salman Rushdie
  • RRP: $27.99

Joseph Anton

A Memoir

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.

  • Published: 18 September 2012
  • ISBN: 9781448155484
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: Audio Download
  • Length: 26 hr 58 min
  • Narrator: Sam Dastor, Salman Rushdie
  • RRP: $27.99

About the author

Salman Rushdie

Salman Rushdie is the author of fourteen novels – Grimus, Midnight’s Children (for which he won the Booker Prize and the Best of the Booker), Shame, The Satanic Verses, Haroun and the Sea of Stories, The Moor’s Last Sigh, The Ground Beneath Her Feet, Fury, Shalimar the Clown, The Enchantress of Florence, Luka and the Fire of Life, Two Years, Eight Months, and Twenty-Eight Nights, The Golden House and Quichotte (which was shortlisted for hte Booker Prize) – and one collection of short stories: East, West. He has also published four works of non-fiction – Joseph Anton, The Jaguar Smile, Imaginary Homelands, and Step Across This Line – and co-edited two anthologies, Mirrorwork and Best American Short Stories 2008. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and a Distinguished Writer in Residence at New York University. A former president of PEN American Center, Rushdie was knighted in 2007 for services to literature.

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Praise for Joseph Anton

Joseph Anton is a book that makes you laugh. It makes you sympathise. It may even scare you. It should also make you — if you believe that freedom is essential — very, very angry.

David Aaronovitch, The Times

[I]t may be the most important book of our times – comparable, in a sense, to Primo Levi’s If This Is a Man.

Rod Liddle, Spectator

Joseph Anton demonstrates Mr. Rushdie's ability as a stylist and storyteller... Defenders of Enlightenment values, regardless of what they think of Mr. Rushdie the novelist, must acknowledge the fact that, when threatened, Salman Rushdie—Joseph Anton—reacted with great bravery and even heroism.

Michael C Moynihan, Wall Street Journal

Funny, painfully moving and absolutely necessary to read.

Nicholas Shakespeare, Daily Telegraph

Started Joseph Anton last night and got annoyed that I eventually had to interrupt it by sleeping. Reads like a thriller... going back in...

Dylan Jones (Editor, GQ), Twitter

Joseph Anton is a splendid book, the finest new memoir to cross my desk in many a year.

Jonathan Yardley, Washington Post

Written in the third person – the author is always “he”. This turns out to be a good decision: experience is kept at a novelistic distance;...Rushdie is able to write with remarkable frankness about highly intimate things.

Fintan O’Toole, Irish Times

Frank and…more gripping than any spy story…the prose makes for powerful reading... He is a great writer who has been brave.

Margaret Drabble, Observer

Joseph Anton...reminds us of his fecund gift for language and his talent for explicating the psychological complexities of family and identity... [A] harrowing, deeply felt and revealing document: an autobiographical mirror of the big, philosophical preoccupations that have animated Mr. Rushdie’s work throughout his career.

Michiko Kakutani, New York Times

Though Rushdie is a very serious literary novelist, he holds his own with Jon Stewart and proves that he's actually kind of a funny guy.

Huffington Post

Joseph Anton conveys a clear and shaming picture of his ordeal… The reader is fully on Rushdie’s side.

Pankaj Mishra, Guardian

A frank and zestful memoir...a precious historical document and an immersive page-turning read...pacey, intimate, surreal, whipped along by love and scorn and overflowing with tall tales...it exerts a mesmeric hold with high-octane storytelling.

Boyd Tonkin, Independent

The book speaks to the heart, and to conscience.

John Lloyd, Financial Times

An indispensable text that needs no description.

Margaret Drabble, New Statesman

The most gripping, moving and entertaining literary memoir I have ever read.

Amanda Craig, Independent on Sunday

The story Rushdie tells is never less than gripping.

Colin McCabe, New Statesman

A magnificent new memoir.

Matthew d’Ancona, Evening Standard

This moving, sometimes irritating, often beautiful and blissfully funny memoir is also a resounding manifesto, reminding us that novelists have a right and duty to tackle the most controversial subjects.

Jake Kerridge, Sunday Express

His big, bold, controversial memoir…matches Rushdie’s confident personality.

Ian Finlayson, The Times

[A book that] rattles with the terror of the moment.

Graeme Wood, Barnes & Noble Review

The big book of the week was Salman Rushdie's memoir Joseph Anton


It’s an extraordinary document.

Anthony Cummins, Metro

Rushdie says art outlasts persecution, but artists may not. A look at how this dichotomy has played out in his life.

Salil Tripathi, Live Mint

Joseph Anton is as riveting for the small vignettes as the big, historical sweep.

Ginny Dougary, Financial Times

Reads like a thriller...painfully true.

Robert McCrum, Observer

He is compelling here...grippingly reconstructing his long years in hiding.

Robert Collins, Sunday Times

[N]ot many Americans had heard of Rushdie until Valentines Day, 1989, when the dying Ayatollah Khomeni of Iran issued the infamous fatwa calling for Rushdie’s head... Rushdie spent most of the next decade in hiding, accompanied by armed British agents. He’s now published his account of that stranger-than-fiction time: Joseph Anton: A Memoir.

Kurt Andersen, Studio 360

Aside from the vivid, splendidly told account of his childhood and family background, Rushdie's book charts in, fascinating, grimly humourous detail, the shadowy half-life he lived until that fatwah was lifted on March 27, 2002.

Paddy Kehoe, RTE Ten

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