On 14 February 1989 Salman Rushdie was contacted by a BBC journalist and told that he had been ’sentenced to death’ by the Ayatollah Khomeini. Under the iranian leader point of view, his crime was to have written a novel called The Satanic Verses, which was accused of being ‘against Islam, the Prophet and the Quran’ and it was more than enough to order a fatwa against the writer. It was the very first time in modern history that a government of a country openly sentenced to death a single citizen from another.
Forced to move from house to house, with the constant presence of an armed police protection team, he was asked to choose an alias that the police could call him by. Joseph Anton was his choice from the writers he loved most: Conrad and Chekhov.
This is also the name of his last book, a memoir from these days and I was lucky enough to meet him for a portrait session during a presentation of the book in Milan.