(From now on: We shall include some posts related to Culture in this Blog: The Language Coop)
Books of The Times

In ‘Joseph Anton,’ Salman Rushdie Revisits Death Threat

Published: September 17, 2012

In 1989 the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini declared that Salman Rushdie’s novel “The Satanic Verses” was offensive to Islam and issued a fatwa against the author, sentencing him to death. For nine years Mr. Rushdie lived under the shadow of assassination, deprived of the freedom of ordinary life and made to fear for himself and his family. It was a nightmare weirdly like something out of one of his own surreal novels, and underscored the very themes he’d been grappling with for years in his fiction: namely, the emotional costs of exile and being cut off from one’s past; the consequences of globalization and the cultural clash between East and West; and the increasingly phantasmagorical nature of contemporary history.

Patricia Wall/The New York Times


A Memoir

By Salman Rushdie

636 pages. Random House. $30.

Mark Lennihan/Associated Press

Security guards surrounded Salman Rushdie as he spoke at Columbia University in 1991.

Now, with “Joseph Anton,” Mr. Rushdie has written a memoir that chronicles those years in hiding — a memoir, coming after several disappointing novels, that reminds us of his fecund gift for language and his talent for explicating the psychological complexities of family and identity. Although this volume can be long-winded and self-important at times, it is also a harrowing, deeply felt and revealing document: an autobiographical mirror of the big, philosophical preoccupations that have animated Mr. Rushdie’s work throughout his career, from the collision of the private and the political in today’s interconnected world to the permeable boundaries between life and art, reality and the imagination.