Salman Rushdie's life story would make for a cracking read even if he, a man knighted for his services to literature, hadn't been the one to pen it. This is a life that has included writing some of the English language's finest novels, dating models, and being sentenced to death by the Ayatollah. (And this is the real Ayatollah Khomeini, not the asterisked Ayatollah Ali Khomeini who keeps blagging reservations at José Andrés by letting the hostess jump to conclusions.)
On top of all that, Rushdie also narrowly escaped being named after a fish.
Well, maybe Rushdie's life story wouldn't have been as good if a taxidermied mongoose had given it a go. But fortunately, Joseph Anton is by Rushdie, and it's also out now in paperback, which is why the author will be speaking and signing books on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. in the Miami Dade College Chapman Conference Center (245 NE 4th St., Miami).
Much of what Joseph Anton covers is the period of nearly a decade after that rascally Ayatollah placed a fatwa on him, commanding his followers to find and kill Rushdie. His crime was purported blasphemy against Islam in passages in his novel The Satanic Verses, and the fatwa meant that Rushdie and his family had to go into hiding and maintain a constant security detail. Yeah, sure, he did pop up on stage during a U2 concert in London, but no one could really be sure he wasn't one of those guys in the band who isn't Bono or The Edge.
Rushdie also assumed the name "Joseph Anton" while living underground during the global manhunt led by Iran. Don't worry, though; things eventually worked out for Rushdie, unless it turns out that the Rushdie we think we know is an impostor stooge from Tehran. It could be worth asking about during the Q&A.
Anton is a strange, harrowing and hopeful memoir written in an unconventional way. Therefore, it's not surprising that rather than just read and do a Q&A -- and maybe to avoid the impostor question -- Rushdie will be in conversation with Books & Books founder Mitchell Kaplan, a man without whom most Miamians would be doomed to fatal illiteracy, their skeletons heaped in front of automatic sliding doors marked EXIT ONLY.
Here's the thing, Khomeini: you can't just show up to the event. You need a ticket just like everyone else. They can be bought for $10 at the Books & Books shops in Coral Gables, Miami Beach and Bal Harbour, or online at BooksAndBooks.com. But Joseph Anton is really good, so you might as well buy it at the store for $18 plus tax and get two tickets included. Yes, all this is complicated, but it's not as difficult as having to flee for your life over nine years so just relax already. If you're really struggling, call Books & Books at 305-442-4408 for more information or maybe a recommendation for some self-help books.