In Hiding From Humility

Dec 8 2012 @ 3:31pm

In a review that Gawker declared "The Best Hatchet Job of 2012," Zoë Heller eviscerates Salmon Rushdie's new memoir, Joseph Anton:

A man living under threat of death for nine years is not to be blamed for occasionally characterizing his plight in grandiloquent terms. But one would hope that when recollecting his emotions in freedom and safety, he might bring some ironic detachment to bear on his own bombast. Hindsight, alas, has had no sobering effect on Rushdie’s magisterial amour propre. An unembarrassed sense of what he is owed as an embattled, literary immortal-in-waiting pervades his book. He wants us to sympathize with the irritation he felt when the men in his protection team abbreviated his grand, Conradian-Chekhovian alias to “Joe.” He wants us to appreciate his outrage at being given orders by jumped-up Scotland Yard officers. (“It was a shaming aspect of his life that policemen felt able to talk to him like this.”) He wants us to understand the affront he felt when diplomatic efforts on his behalf were held up by negotiations to bring back British hostages from Iran: “Terry Waite’s human rights had to be given precedence over his own.” Above all, he wants us to share his aggrieved sense that he was a prophet without nearly enough honor in his own country.