Rushdie’s Life On The Run Is Now A Book
London: Controversial Mumbai-born writer Salman Rushdie’s life on the run when he was under death threats for his novel ‘The Satanic Verses’ , is the subject of his new book, titled Joseph Anton.
The release of the book, published by Jonathan Cape, was accompanied by a BBC documentary on his ordeal.
In the book, New York-based Rushdie, 65, reportedly reveals how he stayed in 20 different ‘safe houses’ in Britain, and paid secret visits to friends such as writers Ian McEwan and Hanif Kureishi.
Joseph Anton is the name Rushdie selected to conceal his identity. He conjured his alias from two of his literary heroes, Joseph Conrad and Anton Chekhov.
In the BBC documentary, Rushdie talks of “being 41 and thinking it pretty unlikely I would see my 42nd birthday. The police told me to lie low for a few days and let the politicians sort it out” .
He lived in several places in Wales, including a bed and breakfast hotel run by a former policeman, rented cottages in Somerset, Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire, and then settled in the Bishops Avenue in north London.
As violent protests broke out this month in West Asia over the anti-Islam film, there were reports that semi-official Iranian religious foundation, headed by Ayatollah Hassan Saneii, has raised the bounty for Rushdie from $2.8 million to $3.3 million.
Rushdie termed the threat a latest product of the “outrage industry” adding that there is “no evidence” of people being interested in the bounty, a report in ABC News said.
“This was essentially one priest in Iran looking for a headline,” Rushdie said referring to Khomeini’s decree in 1989.
He was speaking at a bookstore in Manhattan where he was promoting his memoir ‘Joseph Anton’ which details his life in hiding following the fatwa.
Rushdie has described the anti-Islam movie as a “malicious” attempt to provoke people.
“I think he (the filmmaker) has done something malicious, and that is a very different thing from writing a serious novel.
“He is clearly set out to provoke, and he has obviously unleashed a much bigger reaction than he hoped for. One of the problems with defending free speech is you often have to defend people that you find to be outrageous and unpleasant and disgusting,” Rushdie had said in an interview earlier this week.
In a letter to booksellers, coinciding with the launch of his memoir, Rushdie expressed gratitude to the American writers who “gathered together in a show of almost complete unity to defend freedom of speech” after the fatwa was issued against him.
Rushdie said he will “never forget” that “the independent booksellers of America put the book (The Satanic Verses) in windows, mounted special displays, and courageously stood up for freedom against censorship, refusing to allow the choices of American readers to be limited by the threats of an angry despotic cleric far away”.
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