Because Ideas Matter...
The faculty and staff of Butler University's College of Liberal
Arts and Sciences presents
Joseph Anton. A
by Salman Rushdie, Random House, 2012
Reviewed by Eloise Sureau-Hale
In his latest book, Salman Rushdie is Joseph Anton, a name
chosen to protect himself, when a fatwa was pronounced against him
and his Satanic Verses in 1989.
Written in the third person narrative rather than the first
person perspective, thus allowing some distance, Rushdie candidly
recalls his life, his career and the events that have lead him to
publish his infamous Satanic Verses and the wave of hatred that
have ensued in the Muslim World. The text allows the reader to
enter Rushdie's personal life; his inspirations; his relationship
with his father Anis, his tumultuous marriages, and his personal
shock at the realization that his book, to some extent, had been
misread, misinterpreted, and misused.
Joseph Antonis not only a biographical work. It is a powerful
study of a man facing a death sentence. Moreover, the text examines
the struggles faced everyday by foreigners like Rushdie who will
never really be at home in their adopted country, while estranged
from their birth place. It also examines friendship and family
ties. Who can he count on? What will his life be like
from now on?
This is by far one of the best books of the year, rich in
imagery in a subtle language with a touch of humor. It is however
to be noted that Joseph Anton. A Memoir will be easier to follow
and to comprehend for a reader already familiar with Rushdie's most
important works, namely Midnight's Children and The Satanic Verses
to name only the recurring titles (although his whole bibliography
is mentioned at some point or another). For those familiar with
Rushdie's novels and for the curious in search of a rich life
story, this is a great read!
- Eloise Sureau-Hale is Associate Professor of French at Butler