Subscribe to Granta today

Interview: Salman Rushdie

|

Salman Rushdie’s involvement in Granta goes back to the third issue of the magazine, The End of the English Novel, in which an extract of Midnight’s Children was published. Then editor Bill Buford would later help to protect Rushdie during the fatwa issued by Ayatollah Khomeini, in response to his novel The Satanic Verses, by hiding him in his home. Here he spoke to current editor John Freeman about his memoir of living through those years, Joseph Anton.

JF: One of the most striking things about this book is while it’s a memoir, it reads like a biography. Partly because it is writing in the third person. Why did you do this?

SR: (a) I tried the first person and didn’t like it. (b) the question of identity is important in this book; there were so many Rushdies being made up by other people . . . and, I think, I wanted to say, I'm not quite the same person as the ‘me’ about whom the book is written. The author is now in a calmer frame of mind, and two decades older; the subject is younger, and under all sorts of deforming stress.

Some of my favourite passages in the book describe your childhood in Bombay. Astonishing to know your father wanted in some way to be a Koranic scholar. Did you feel in writing Satanic Verses you were living out of that wish?

Yes, in a way. In writing this memoir, it became even clearer to me that I am very much my father’s son.

So, it appears you weren’t in some underground bunker, but in a rented house in Wimbledon, or Wales, or the Cotswolds. Or, well, any number of places. Did this constant moving ever feel like a kind of grandly exaggerated version of being a migrant?

It felt more like being a refugee.

How did you deal with the fear?

By putting it in a box in the corner of the room and getting on with my day.

This period must have – and seems to have – put your relationships under an enormous amount of strain. Several of them break down as a result – publishers, agents, spouses, friends. Are there any of them which you write about which you wish you could have saved?

I wish things hadn’t broken down with Penguin.

You became, for lack of a better word, a symbol during this time. Of Freedom, for some, of blasphemy, for others. Do you ever find wielding this aspect of yourself gets in the way of your writing?

I never felt symbolic. I felt, as I say in the memoir, actual. I didn’t like the idealized me any better than I liked the demonized me. Joseph Anton is a way of saying, I’m neither one, but a human being, sometimes right, often wrong, trying to struggle through the challenges life threw, and still throws, at me.

This book is full of some unexpected cameos. Graham Greene (who I recently learned was also at the Best of Young British Novelists party in 1983), Meg Ryan, Allen Ginsberg, Thomas Pynchon. Who gave you the best advice?

Graham Greene was the most comforting, because of his glee at the ‘trouble I'd caused’.

Now that you’ve killed off Joseph Anton, do you think you can go back to being Salman Rushdie?

I never stopped being Salman Rushdie. The books are the proof. ■

Joseph Anton by Salman Rushdie is published by Random House.

Comments (29)

You need to create an account or log in to comment.

  1. makul65

    Sat Oct 06 15:27:32 BST 2012

    I find it ironical that the person who issued the fatwa sentencing Salman Rushdie to death,passed away not long after issuing the fatwa.

    #
  2. cinta

    Thu Apr 17 02:34:39 BST 2014

    Incredible! I had no idea that this can be so interesting – thanks to this article I started to do some research http://goo.gl/YIuEsf

    #
  3. Steve Jame

    Mon Dec 08 17:26:03 GMT 2014

    I was excited to uncover this great site. I want to to thank you for ones time due to this fantastic read!! I definitely savored every part of it and i also have you book marked to look at new stuff in your website.
    https://rebelmouse.com/bloodpressuresolutionreview
    https://www.rebelmouse.com/bloodpressuresolutionreview/

    #
  4. Steve Jame

    Sun Dec 14 19:30:29 GMT 2014

    Great post i must say and thanks for the information. Education is definitely a sticky subject. However, is still among the leading topics of our time. I appreciate your post and look forward to more.
    http://www.girlfriendactivationsystemreviews.com/
    http://girlfriendactivationsystemreviews.com/

    #
  5. saderf

    Tue Oct 07 17:55:47 BST 2014

    I definitely enjoying every little bit of it. It is a great website and nice share. I want to thank you. Good job! You guys do a great blog, and have some great contents. Keep up the good work. http://vasectomy-cost.tumblr.com/

    #
  6. Galarz

    Sat Oct 11 14:40:47 BST 2014

    Auto Mobile Code
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DRPRY1dpACE

    Secret Millionaire Society
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FQEC9_t-f5o

    My Cash Bot
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ULaVkwy251w

    Auto Mobile Binary
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WbD2UuM64j4

    Newbie Launch Formula
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0jjnjQGm_o0

    223 Average People Made $1857 A Day for 90 Days With This Cash Bot! Can YOU? Watch This Video NOW! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ULaVkwy251w

    #
  7. Steve Jame

    Sun Dec 14 11:15:21 GMT 2014

    This is a very good tip particularly to those new to the blogosphere. Simple but very accurate info… Appreciate your sharing this one. A must read post!
    help
    https://www.rebelmouse.com/boostyourbustjennybolton/

    #
  8. Indian railway pnr status

    Wed Oct 15 16:26:01 BST 2014

    Its a great post thanks for the information
    http://ap-ssc-results-2015.blogspot.com

    #
  9. Steve Jame

    Sat Dec 06 16:12:52 GMT 2014

    I was excited to uncover this great site. I want to to thank you for ones time due to this fantastic read!! I definitely savored every part of it and i also have you book marked to look at new stuff in your website.
    http://girlfriendactivationsystemreviews.com
    http://girlfriendactivationsystemreviews.com/

    #
  10. fanta

    Mon Oct 06 10:49:32 BST 2014

    I definitely enjoying every little bit of it. It is a great website and nice share. I want to thank you. Good job! You guys do a great blog, and have some great contents. Keep up the good work. http://new-life10.blogspot.com/

    #
  11. Steve Jame

    Sat Nov 29 10:04:00 GMT 2014

    I am grateful for this valid information. You have represented your points in an insightful and interesting way.
    voyance par tel
    http://voyance-amour-eternel.com

    #
  12. putra

    Sun Jun 29 08:47:31 BST 2014

    Nice information, valuable and excellent design, as share good stuff with good ideas and concepts, lots of great information and inspiration, both of which I need, thanks to offer such a helpful information here.

    http://inspirasidesainkamartidur.blogspot.com
    http://www.cantikdangaya.com
    http://rumahminimalis79.blogspot.com
    http://caramenghilangkanjerawat-bekasjerawat.blogspot.com
    http://tips2idea.blogspot.com

    #
  13. frankdalvarado102

    Wed Oct 01 09:13:10 BST 2014

    Wow, what a really helpful post this is http://www.payanywhere.com/ . Truly, one has to comment on this article if he/she reads this article. That's why I did it. Thumbs up

    #
  14. Steve Jame

    Wed Dec 03 11:50:09 GMT 2014

    Excellent Blog! I would like to thank for the efforts you have made in writing this post. I am hoping the same best work from you in the future as well. I wanted to thank you for this websites! Thanks for sharing. Great websites!
    get the girl code michael fiore guide
    https://www.rebelmouse.com/getthegirlcodereviews/

    #
  15. Steve Jame

    Wed Dec 03 10:37:07 GMT 2014

    This is a good post! Well done and I believe it will be better in future. May wanna add some pictures and life.
    rebelmouse
    https://www.rebelmouse.com/girlfriendsystemreview/

    #
  16. frankdalvarado102

    Sat Sep 27 08:50:35 BST 2014

    This article gives the light in which we can observe the reality. This is very nice one and gives indepth information. Thanks for this nice article.
    http://www.fest-diner.dk/grill-julebuffet.html

    #
  17. 3

    Mon Oct 13 13:18:21 BST 2014

    I definitely enjoying every little bit of it. It is a great website and nice share. I want to thank you. Good job! You guys do a great blog, and have some great contents. Keep up the good work. http://vasectomycost0.wordpress.com/

    #
  18. jasperflegal

    Thu Nov 27 14:17:23 GMT 2014

    You are allowed to post names, but not links, unless they are approved and on topic.

    Supra Shoes UK Sale
    http://supra.liquid3.co.uk

    #