Salman Rushdie on the lessons of being Joseph Anton
In this lengthy interview with Mediapart’s Christine Marcandier and Sophie Dufau, the novelist and essayist Salman Rushdie talks about his latest work, Joseph Anton: A Memoir, a biographical account of his life in hiding when a fatwa was issued against him in 1989 following publication of his novel The Satanic Verses.
Rushdie, 65, was in Paris for the publication of the French version of his memoir (the original English version was published in September), which begins when he answers a phone call from a BBC journalist and discovers for the first time that Iranian political and religious leader Ayatollah Khomeini had called for him to be put to death.
Joseph Anton was the pseudonym he used in the ensuing years of hiding, chosen from the first names of two of the authors he admires the most, Joseph Conrad and Anton Chekhov.
During the interview, the Indian-born British author, who has spent the last decade living in New York, expresses his gratitude for the notable public support he received from political and artistic circles in France, where he was made a Commandeur of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, the highest tribute of this official cultural order, in 1999.
But he begins by recalling how 1989 was a year of enormous change in the world, argues that the fatwa was the start of a mounting tide of obscurantism that led to the 9/11 attacks in the US in 2001, and how, if the internet functioned in 1989 as it does today, he might well have been murdered.
The interview, separated into four parts below, was recorded on November 14th (click screen to play).
Joseph Anton: A Memoir is published in English by Random House in the US and Jonathan Cape in the UK (see a review from The Observer here), and is published in France as Joseph Anton, une autobiographie by Plon.
Le Club est l'espace de libre expression des abonnés de Mediapart. Ses contenus n'engagent pas la rédaction.