JA

Salman Rushdie has come out with a new book and no, it is not controversial. Yet. Instead, it is a memoir, a book of many books. Titled Joseph Anton, it talks to us about how life changed for Rushdie post Fatwa in 1989, for his book ‘Satanic Verses’. Of course, it narrates the life of the man from his childhood and how certain incidents shaped him to be the man that we see today.

Joseph Anton is an honest piece of art, to be fair. It sketches a portrait of the artist as a man and how he lived through it all, a rarity in these ages. From his days in Bombay to New York with a bit of London thrown in for good effect coupled with his rise and rise in the publishing world, the book makes an entertaining read. This is a story of all that and of fathers and sons, of women and marriages and of friendships and betrayals.

Salman Rushdie takes us on a very personal journey which he could have so easily avoided but perhaps wanted the world to know, his side of the story. At the time of the Fatwa, Rushdie talks to us about the claustrophobia he feels. He talks about the forced existence he goes through for no fault of his, he cries to us about the writer’s block which haunts him as a result. His writing is rich and of a deep velvety nature, it makes us feel that we are experiencing it ourselves. For every book that he wrote in that period, it was a sort of victory for the man who tells it to us. ‘The Moor’s Last Sigh’ was published during this period and so was a children’s book, ‘Haroun and the Sea of Stories’. Every piece of writing he manages to chalk out feels like a victory, he says and we almost feel him breathing beside us when he does. That is the magic of this man.

Of course, a few details could have been left out or at the very least, have been told in a subtle manner, such as his marriages and divorce with Marriane Wiggins and Padma Lakshmi. But he is what he is, and he makes no bones about it. This is what makes him write even after having a Fatwa declared against him and that is why, we should raise a toast to him.

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