The fatwa can change a writer’s life, as Salman Rushdie’s riveting “personal history” that has appeared in the New Yorker magazine explains. Yet, Ayatollah Khomeini hadn’t read the book. He was apparently watching evening news on TV, as usual, at home in Qom and saw how passionately Pakistanis were burning the Satanic Verses, believing the book was blasphemous to the Prophet. (Khomeini himself has been spoofed in the book.)
At any rate, as Rushdie writes, his alter-ego Joseph Anton, survived the fatwa, is still living and will go on living — till he dies. How wonderful Rushdie stumbled upon the name Joseph Anton! “[Joseph] Conrad, the translingual creator of wanderers, of voyagers into the heart of darkness, of secret agents in a world of killers and bombs, and at least one immortal coward, hiding from his shame; and [Anton] Chekhov, the master of loneliness and of melancholy, of the beauty of an old world destroyed, like the trees in a cherry orchard, by the brutality of the new, Chekhov whose ‘Three Sisters’ believed that real life was elsewhere and yearned eternally for a Moscow to which they could not return: these were godfathers now.”
Today is a sad day for FOIs like me [Friends of Iran]: Iran ups Rushdie award
. But, WHY? Of course, the shrewd timing suggests it has to be a smart Iranian move to be on the “right side of history” in the Muslim world. Simply put, Iran is shamelessly cashing in on the fury triggered by the anti-Islam American film.
But then, Iran can’t help it. The controversy over the anti-islam film has inevitably become a Saudi-Iranian controversy
. By upping the Rushdie award, Iran is occupying the barricades where the Saudis shudder to be seen. Got it? So, it isn’t really all about Joseph Anton. Read Rushdie’s New Yorker piece here