While looking for reading/audio material I read this review, so based on that...It's bad enough I have to listen to some pompous fool proclaim his self-perceived brilliance, I simply cannot endure one from Rushkie. Besides that, I've seen him in interviews, so this is a definite miss regardless of his life story.
Mr. Rushdie is a talented, writer's writer, and boy how he wants you to know it! So much so, in fact, that this autobiography, with a very heavy emphasis on his living-under-threat-of-death fatwa years, sprawls across 22 fairly pompous CDs. I won't claim I didn't enjoy the gossipy insights into his life in semi-hiding, a veritable who's who of literary, political, and celebrity figures are paraded out, but I will also confess there were times I actually shouted at my car stereo, "oh, get on with it, Salman!".
This memoir was an eye-opening look at living under threat. Whether it is the actual fear from the threats by Muslim extremists, the restrictions placed on his movements by the police and security officials, the reaction of media, the public reaction or his own family member's reaction, we see the effects on Rushdie's life. Joseph Anton was the pseudonym he chose for the police to use for him during most of this time, initiated once they realized this was not a short term situation.
Salman Rushdie lays out his life before the reader, both good and bad, embarrassing and uplifting, to show that he is a person just like the rest of us. Being a writer meant that he was still able to work during this time, but his circumstances also limited in his work in terms of doing research, promoting his work, and dealing with publishers. He had a core group of friends and family that helped keep him going, supported him intellectually, emotionally, and through physical means like offering temporary homes.
During his time under security restrictions, the life of Joseph Anton, Rushdie had one marriage end, another begin and end, a son grow up, and another son born. It was years before he was allowed to return to the country of his birth, and his restrictions cost him a great deal both financially and emotionally.
With support, he found ways to deal with and work around these restrictions as he tried to lead as normal a life as he could under the circumstances. This memoir is revealing and open about his own feelings and reactions, with moments of sadness and humour. A joy to read.
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