Revisiting Joseph Anton

Last year, for a class on Banned Books, I taught Salman Rushdie's memoir Joseph Anton. The book itself has never been banned but he and his protective services adopted the name when he had to go into hiding. It was a good book to end the semester with and for my students and I to discuss and understand the ways in which censorship impacts a writer's life. Today, I revisited Joseph Anton and fell in love with the first paragraph of chapter 1 all over again. 

When he was a small boy his father at bedtime told him the great wonder tales of the East, told them and re-told them and re-made them and re-invented them in his own way--the stories of Scheherazade from the Thousand and One Nights, stories told against death to prove the ability of stories to civilize and overcome even the most murderous of tyrants; and the animal fables of the Panchatantra; and the marvels that poured like a waterfall from the Kathasaritsagara, the "Ocean of the Streams of Story," the immense story-lake created in Kashmir where his ancestors had been born; and the tales of mighty heroes collected in the Hamzanama and the Adventures of Hatim Tai (this was also a movie, whose many embellishments of the original tales were added to and augmented in the bedtime re-tellings).