“Rushdie has said that one of his aims in writing Joseph Anton was to be ‘tougher’ on himself ‘than on anybody else.’ This is a steep ambition for any memoirist and quite possibly an unrealistic one for a man as tenacious in his grudges as Rushdie. When faced with a choice between exercising magnanimity and exacting long-awaited revenge, the author of Joseph Anton almost invariably opts for the latter.
“Some of his most egregiously uncharitable moments occur when writing about his four marriages. Rushdie has a habit of excusing his own fairly frequent infidelities and betrayals with reference to the imperative nature of his own desires. The various failings of the wives—their money-grubbing and nagging, their jealousy of his talent, and so on—are not so readily excused.”
Zoë Heller on Salman Rushdie’s memoir
Photo: Salman Rushdie, Brick Lane, London, 1988 (Gilles Peress/Magnum Photos)