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The Disappeared

posted on September 18, 2012

Salman Rushdie recounts for The New Yorker going into hiding after Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa for him following the publication of his novel The Satanic Verses, which some Muslims deemed blasphemous for its depiction of the Prophet Muhammad. Written about himself in the third person, the piece reads: “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.” The alias Rushdie chose, which he lived by for eleven years, was Joseph Anton, taken from two of his favorite authors, Joseph Conrad and Anton Chekov.


Read at The New Yorker