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Publisher's Summary

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.
©2012 Salman Rushdie (P)2012 Random House Audiobooks
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Customer Reviews

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By Jane on 08-23-16

Fascinating story, great narration

Would you listen to Joseph Anton again? Why?

Definitely, in a few years' time! I'm sure there were many subtle gems of wisdom that I missed on the first listen.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Joseph Anton?

The crash with the truck and the aftermath thereof. Really brought home how much Rushdie's life had moved into alien territory.

What about Salman Rushdie and Sam Dastor ’s performance did you like?

It's a long book and a detailed story that could have become tedious with a less skilled reader. Dastor's performance kept me engaged and worked so well with Rushdie's prose rhythm.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I was quite surprised by how much I enjoyed this book... for 27 hours! Makes you look for opportunities to listen.

Any additional comments?

Even someone who is not a Rushdie fan will enjoy this tale of a life that few of us has imagined; the story of a life lived in hiding, under a pseudonym, in full view of constant surveillance and protection, all the while knowing that thousands of people would kill you on sight if they had the chance. It seems too unreal to be true and yet it is.

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By Jenny on 09-23-13

Beware the Ayatollah!

What did you love best about Joseph Anton?

It's immediacy.And it's sadness.In doing what was his passion and his purpose, Salman Rushdie was condemned, not just by the fatwa, but by many colleagues and countrymen who accused him of doing it for the publicity!

What was one of the most memorable moments of Joseph Anton?

The decision to have a baby and then the birth of that baby - Milan. It spoke of hope in a very hopeless place. A place that then grew more hopeless as the marriage that produced Milan broke down. Yet Rushdie expresses an eternal hope in the love that he bears for both his sons.

Which character – as performed by Salman Rushdie and Sam Dastor – was your favorite?

Salman Rushdie himself. Resenting being called Joseph Anton and yet thinking how clever he was to have devised it- too clever for his minders, who then called him Jim!

His patience with his situation and the occasional outbreak of frustration. His bewilderment as other people seemed to misunderstand and to resent what was happening to him and how much it was costing to maintain 24 hour protection for him.

His personality glows softly in every word.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Both. But neither in an extreme way.

I certainly felt outrage towards those who condemned him for The Satanic Verses without reading it - and that included Ayatollah Khomeini.

I was also very annoyed by the attitude of the Iranian government who prevaricated about removing the fatwa, even going so far as to say that because Khomeini was dead, it could never be removed. It reinforced my opinion of that regime.

Any additional comments?

This is a long and very interesting book.

It has to be as the fatwa lasted from 14 February 1989 to a nominal withdrawal 24 September 1998.

Rushdie still receives cards on the 14 February every year from hardliners who declare their intention to carry out the fatwa. He describes this rhetoric rather than a real threat.

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By Thomas on 10-24-12

Where to start...

Like many of Rushdie's books I'm not sure I'm supposed to get it. Personally I feel that this is an important case for the human right of free speech. But parts did have me scratching my head.

I have heard critics attack this book for it's thinly veiled anger towards the media, politicians and Iran which I think they exaggerate. But honestly I can't blame him, I'm sure being vilified and threatened aren't key ingredients to a happy biography. However, some parts of the book came across rushed while others plodded at a glacial pace. It's bizarre how hours are spent explaining sitting in houses with police men wondering how he wished people would consider him a writer again yet the post 2001 period of the book, where he essentially became a writer again, is perhaps only 40 minuets long.

Rushdie is at least very honest and open about a great number of topics be it cancer, love, fear, anger and politics all of which appear to have had a deep effect on him. I have only just finished this book and I'm still struggling to sum it up. Rushdie is not to everybody's taste and my feeling is that if you don't like him before you read this he is unlikely to convert you. He addresses the attacks the media made on him during the early fatwa years but never really seems to dispel them all in my opinion. Perhaps I am biased but either way this book is an important one if you value free speech as we all should.

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By Anil on 01-17-13

Didn't want this to end!

I remember the announcement of the fatwa many years ago (when I was about 15 years old) and I really felt for Mr Rushdie at that time. Although I have never managed to read any of his other books, I was very interested in this one (having come across a few reviews). It gripped me from the start and so I decided to go for the audiobook (as I spend nearly >1 hour plus a day driving to and from work.) It's a real insight into Mr Rushdie's life during this time as a lot of his words are also from memoirs he written at that time. So many emotions throughout from heartbreaks to misery and laughing and joy. I was kind of dreading approaching the end as i didn't want it to finish...The narration and the accents are superb.

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By Mr on 10-25-17

What a story

Some Audible books simply don't work well as an audio book (possibly because there are too many characters or it's badly read). This is not the case with this marvellous book which follows the ordeal of Salman Rushdie following his fatwa by the Iranian president following the publication of Satanic Verses in 1988. Wonderful writing and a great story. Highly Recommended.

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