London : India-born controversial author Salman Rushdie’s memoir, which gives an account of the decade he spent in hiding in the wake of the Iranian ‘fatwa’ against him for his book ‘The Satanic Verses’, hit the stands on Tuesday.
Written in the third person, the 633-page memoir titled ‘Joseph Anton’ is a personal narrative as well as a collection of comments and reporting in newspapers of what turned out to be a fight for freedom of expression that led to millions of pounds being spent on his security by the British taxpayers.
Some accounts in the book have already been published and narrated by 65-year-old Rushdie in pre-publication interviews, while the book received mixed reviews as the first copies were snapped up in bookshops in Britain and elsewhere today.
Writing in The Guardian, Indian author Pankaj Mishra says the memoir is too long, over-dependent on Rushdie’s journals, and “unquickened by hindsight, or its prose.”
Mishra writes: “Ostensibly deployed as a distancing device, the third-person narration frequently makes for awkward self-regard… A peevish righteousness comes to pervade the memoir as Rushdie routinely and often repetitively censures those who criticised or disagreed with him.”
But the book received accolades in The Wall Street Journal, as Michael C Moynihan wrote that ‘Joseph Anton’ “demonstrates Mr Rushdie’s ability as a stylist and storyteller.”
Rushdie chose the name ‘Joseph Anton’ as a tribute to his two favourite writers, Joseph Conrad and Anton Chekhov, while his bodyguards and protection officers from Special Branch called him Joe.
‘The Satanic Verses’ was published in 1988, following which a fatwa calling for his murder was issued by Iran’s spiritual leader, the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. –PTI