POSTED BY Sundeep Dougal ON Sep 11, 2012 AT 01:56 IST ,  Edited At: Sep 11, 2012 01:56 IST

 

The New Yorker has a fascinating extract from Joseph Anton, Salman Rushdie's memoirs of his days in hiding from Khomeini's fatwa. A short excerpt from that extract:

He needed a name, the police told him in Wales. His own name was useless; it was a name that could not be spoken, like Voldemort in the not yet written Harry Potter books. He could not rent a house with it, or register to vote, because to vote you needed to provide a home address and that, of course, was impossible. To protect his democratic right to free expression, he had to surrender his democratic right to choose his government...

“Probably better not to make it an Asian name,” Stan said. “People put two and two together sometimes.” So he was to give up his race as well. He would be an invisible man in whiteface.

He thought of writers he loved and tried combinations of their names. Vladimir Joyce. Marcel Beckett. Franz Sterne. He made lists of such combinations, but all of them sounded ridiculous. Then he found one that did not. He wrote down, side by side, the first names of Conrad and Chekhov, and there it was, his name for the next eleven years. Joseph Anton....

He had spent his life naming fictional characters. Now, by naming himself, he had turned himself into a sort of fictional character as well. Conrad Chekhov wouldn’t have worked. But Joseph Anton was someone who might exist. Who now did exist. Conrad, the translingual creator of wanderers, of voyagers into the heart of darkness, of secret agents in a world of killers and bombs, and of at least one immortal coward, hiding from his shame; and 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 his godfathers now. It was Conrad who gave him the motto to which he clung, as if to a lifeline, in the long years that followed. In the now unacceptably titled “The Nigger of the Narcissus,” the hero, a sailor named James Wait, stricken with tuberculosis on a long sea voyage, is asked by a fellow-sailor why he came aboard, knowing that he was unwell. “I must live till I die—mustn’t I?” Wait replies.

In his present circumstances, the question felt like a command. “Joseph Anton,” he told himself, “you must live till you die.”

***

Read the full extract here

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POSTED BY Sundeep Dougal ON Sep 11, 2012 AT 01:56 IST, Edited At: Sep 11, 2012 01:56 IST
POSTED BY Buzz ON Apr 11, 2012 AT 01:46 IST ,  Edited At: Apr 11, 2012 01:46 IST

Salman Rushdie on Twitter:


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POSTED BY Buzz ON Apr 11, 2012 AT 01:46 IST, Edited At: Apr 11, 2012 01:46 IST
POSTED BY Sundeep Dougal ON Jun 22, 2010 AT 03:24 IST ,  Edited At: Jun 22, 2010 03:24 IST

Douglas Adams was right about the fundamental interconnectedness of life, the universe and everything. A few days back, we put up a link to Dom Moraes' piece on David Davidar, which has a story about the latter breaking a door down. And then this Saturday, I came across a  slightly different version of the same story in Leela Naidu & Jerry Pinto's wondrous Leela, A Patchwork Life. The book also has a Foreword by Jerry Pinto which has a fuller version of the following story about Dom Moraes :

“Dom had written this really nasty piece about Midnight’s Children,” Salman Rushdie said when he heard that I was writing Leela Naidu’s life. “But when I came to Bombay, he left a note saying that he had been misquoted and that he wanted to meet to have a drink. I called Vinod Mehta up and he was very angry. ‘What does he mean misquoted? He wrote the piece. I still have his manuscript. Come and see it.’

“But I thought, ‘If he wants to make amends…’ So I agreed to meet him for a drink in The President. We had a couple and then he invited me home to lunch. I said, ‘Are you sure? You know, it is very little notice.’ He asked the bartender for the phone and seemed to have a heated conversation with someone. Then he slammed the phone and said, ‘Let’s go.’ That was very uncomfortable for me but I thought, ‘Leela Naidu, I might get to see Leela Naidu.’

“And so I went along. Dom left me sitting in the hall and went inside. I could hear raised voices, a row in several languages. Then there was silence. I sat in the hall, feeling increasingly uncomfortable. Then Dom’s major domo—I don’t think there was another house that had a major domo—presented himself and asked what I would like for lunch.

“ ‘Where is saahab?’ I asked.”

“ ‘Saahab behosh ho gaya,’ said the man. And then he wanted to know if I would like some fish. The terrible thing is: I never did get to see Leela.”

(the excerpt above is from Jerry Pinto's website; link thanks to Nilanjana Roy on Twitter)

For the record, the version in the book has Salman Rushdie saying that he "ate a chicken cutlet and chips in solitary spelndour wondering if Leela Naidu would show. She did not. [He] was then offered dessert, declined it, and fled. And [he] never met Leela."

And, of course,  there is the "ruthless Ms Roy" on the sets of Electric Moon, but that is just a minor anecdote in a book filled with fascinating stories

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POSTED BY Sundeep Dougal ON Jun 22, 2010 AT 03:24 IST, Edited At: Jun 22, 2010 03:24 IST
     
 
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