I can understand the need of Rushdie to write such a memoir after what he had experienced.
Frankly speaking, I am not a great fan of his books: I started to read “The Moor’s last sight” but I did not manage to get the end. Too difficult for me, I lack English-based culture and a lot of foreign references. And although I do not particularly like authors and comedians who tease religions but… you cannot kill people for this!
In this memoir Rushdie is astonished by the journalistic attack and fact that his book Satanic Verses is considered as an insult, and not as a literature piece, as if he had writter hundred of pages just with the aim to tease the prophet.
But I think that such a memoir is rather repeating: you cannot write all those trials to collect political support, because at the end all those names, all those back and forth become boring. I know that you have to let the reader understand what you have been through, but once you said that “reading is about joy”, and I assure you that 649 pages on this matter are too many.
On the other hand, I loved the parts where he described his meeting with other writers: Christopher Hitchens, A. Roy, Susan Sontag, Paul Auster, H. Pinter, Nadine Gordimer, and many, many others. I mean: I do not find people who read books, and there you see a group of people who write books!
In general, this memoir balances itself between resentment against people and institutions and newspapers that did not support him during the fatwa period, and love for people who helped him. Sometimes, between the lines, I thought to read too much resentment, as if the memoir was a broad road to take his revenge, a place where he could express his point of view against the haters. I can understand it, although I did not like it.
So: an interesting memoir. But let me utter my tip to the author: please be quiet with young and nice-looking girls. I am talking about his last wife, Padma, the model. How can such an intellectual loose all his mind on a woman who has nothing in commong with him on a literature level? (Although I think that we should also listen to her version of the story, I do not think that such a beauty goes very deep with her readings..)
No matter how many books you read: if you have not born wonderful, you have no chance to become a friend of any of your literature heros. Maybe you can meet them at a book event, but they forget you, if you are not like Padma or Elizabeth. This is the lesson that I go on receiving.