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1. Midnight's Children: A Novel
2. Luka and the Fire of Life: A Novel
3. The Enchantress of Florence: A
4. The Satanic Verses: A Novel
5. Shame: A Novel
6. Grimus: A Novel (Modern Library
7. The Wizard of Oz (BFI Film Classics)
8. Haroun and the Sea of Stories
9. Shalimar the Clown: A Novel
10. Salman Rushdie: The Essential
11. Fury: A Novel (Modern Library)
12. The Ground Beneath Her Feet: A
13. The Moor's Last Sigh
14. Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children:
15. Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children:
16. Step Across This Line: Collected
17. Mirrorwork: 50 Years of Indian
18. The Jaguar Smile: Nicaraguan Journey
19. Conversations with Salman Rushdie
20. Imaginary Homelands: Essays and

1. Midnight's Children: A Novel
by Salman Rushdie
Paperback: 533 Pages (2006-04-04)
list price: US$16.00 -- used & new: US$8.23
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0812976533
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
Winner of the Booker of Bookers
Saleem Sinai is born at the stroke of midnight on August 15, 1947, the very moment of India’s independence. Greeted by fireworks displays, cheering crowds, and Prime Minister Nehru himself, Saleem grows up to learn the ominous consequences of this coincidence. His every act is mirrored and magnified in events that sway the course of national affairs; his health and well-being are inextricably bound to those of his nation; his life is inseparable, at times indistinguishable, from the history of his country. Perhaps most remarkable are the telepathic powers linking him with India’s 1,000 other “midnight’s children,” all born in that initial hour and endowed with magical gifts.

This novel is at once a fascinating family saga and an astonishing evocation of a vast land and its people–a brilliant incarnation of the universal human comedy. Twenty-five years after its publication, Midnight’s Children stands apart as both an epochal work of fiction and a brilliant performance by one of the great literary voices of our time.Amazon.com Review
Anyone who has spent time in the developing world will knowthat one of Bombay's claims to fame is the enormous film industry thatchurns out hundreds of musical fantasies each year. The other, ofcourse, is native son Salman Rushdie--less prolific, perhaps thanBollywood, but in his own way just as fantastical. Though Rushdie'snovels lack the requisite six musical numbers that punctuate everyBombay talkie, they often share basic plot points with their cinematiccounterparts. Take, for example, his 1980 Booker Prize-winningMidnight's Children: two children born at the stroke ofmidnight on August 15, 1947--the moment at which India became anindependent nation--are switched in the hospital. The infant scion ofa wealthy Muslim family is sent to be raised in a Hindu tenement,while the legitimate heir to such squalor ends up establishingsquatters' rights to his unlucky hospital mate's luxuriousbassinet. Switched babies are standard fare for a Hindi film, and onecan't help but feel that Rushdie's world-view--and certainly his senseof the fantastical--has been shaped by the films of his childhood. Butwhereas the movies, while entertaining, are markedly mediocre,Midnight's Children is a masterpiece, brilliant written, wildlyunpredictable, hilarious and heartbreaking in equal measure.

Rushdie's narrator, Saleem Sinai, is the Hindu child raised by wealthyMuslims. Near the beginning of the novel, he informs us that he isfalling apart--literally:

I mean quite simply that I have begun to crack all overlike an old jug--that my poor body, singular, unlovely, buffeted bytoo much history, subjected to drainage above and drainage below,mutilated by doors, brained by spittoons, has started coming apart atthe seams. In short, I am literally disintegrating, slowly for themoment, although there are signs of an acceleration.
In light of this unfortunate physical degeneration, Saleem has decidedto write his life story, and, incidentally, that of India's, before hecrumbles into "(approximately) six hundred and thirty millionparticles of anonymous, and necessarily oblivious, dust." It seemsthat within one hour of midnight on India's independence day, 1,001children were born. All of those children were endowed with specialpowers: some can travel through time, for example; one can changegender. Saleem's gift is telepathy, and it is via this power that hediscovers the truth of his birth: that he is, in fact, the product ofthe illicit coupling of an Indian mother and an English father, andhas usurped another's place. His gift also reveals the identities ofall the other children and the fact that it is in his power to gatherthem for a "midnight parliament" to save the nation. To do so,however, would lay him open to that other child, christened Shiva, whohas grown up to be a brutish killer. Saleem's dilemma plays outagainst the backdrop of the first years of independence: the partitionof India and Pakistan, the ascendancy of "The Widow" Indira Gandhi,war, and, eventually, the imposition of martial law.

We've seen this mix of magical thinking and political reality beforein the works of Günter Grass and Gabriel GarcíaMárquez. What sets Rushdie apart is his mad prose pyrotechnics,the exuberant acrobatics of rhyme and alliteration, pun, wordplay,proper and "Babu" English chasing each other across the page in adizzying, exhilarating cataract of words. Rushdie can belaugh-out-loud funny, but make no mistake--this is an angry book, andits author's outrage lends his language wings. Midnight'sChildren is Salman Rushdie's irate, affectionate love song to hisnative land--not so different from a Bombay talkie, afterall. --Alix Wilber ... Read more

Customer Reviews (196)

5-0 out of 5 stars Liberating the Truth from History
How do you tell the story of a country? Tell it as the story of a person. The main character and narrator of Midnight's Children, Saleem Sinia, is born (or at least someone is born, because there is a bit of a muddle) at the stroke of midnight, on August 15, 1947, the day that India gained its independence from British colonial rule. Narrating his own story, Saleem tells his country's story, and that of the other 1,001 children who were born that day, and blessed with special powers because of their special place in history --not that it helped with their survival in many cases, but then nation-building is fraught with risks.

Salman Rushdie, also fortuitously born in 1947, took to heart the classic advice to budding authors: write what you know. The result is beyond history, beyond testimony; it is art. He identifies the truth in the storytelling, or as he puts it: he liberates the truth from history.

The book is tightly interwoven although at times it seems loose and meandering. Saleem's faithful companion Padma speaks for the reader and urges Saleem to get back on track. My favorite aspect of the writing was the sensual quality: it is tremendously atmospheric, and permeated with considerable wry humor. The imagery is rich and resonating. Nothing is gratuitous. Every detail, every description, has either symbolic or historical relevance. This is what sets Salman Rushdie apart from writers who can spin a good yarn and keep the reader engaged, but who have no sense of literary construction, not to mention history.

History is the main theme of the book; personal history, the nation's history, and the need to create one's own history. History has cracks, it comes together and disintegrates, memory is faulty. But overall, history is always invented and it depends on who is doing the telling.

"Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans"
One aspect that several people at book club mentioned as being difficult was the fact that this is the kind of book that must be read while paying close attention; you can't skim through it or else you will miss key information. Often Rushdie will offhandedly toss out a fact, or mention an event, and then 20 pages later (not just one or two pages) it will be revealed that the aforementioned detail was a key turning point in the life of a character or the country.

Rushdie plays freely with the supernatural (ghosts, but are they?), oral storytelling, voices, prophecies, Christian, Muslim, and Hindu religious conventions, melding them into a unified, if surreal, whole. The priests are instructed to tell their Indian Christian converts who might be concerned about whether they will be accepted into Heaven if their skin is darks: Tell them that Jesus is blue as the "Hindu love-god, Krishna, is always depicted with blue skin. Tell them blue; it will be a sort of bridge between the faiths." This is a Solomonic solution rife with absurdity. Upon being told that Jesus is blue, Saleem's nurse Mary Pereira is indignant, "You should write to Holy Father Pope in Rome, he will surely put you straight; but one does not have to be Pope to know that the mens are not ever blue!"

The multiplicity of voices was another aspect that was problematic for some readers. Events unfold simultaneously. We get to hear different voices speaking at the same time, just as Saleem hears the voices of the midnight's children in his head. This is the literary convention that Rushdie uses to express what the main character is experiencing, as well as representing the conflicting forces in the country.

Midnight's Children is a book that is epic heroic, historic, and yet completely human and accessible, because for all its scope and grandeur, it is a story about life, as it unfolds and is told from the perspective of a fictitious narrator who reveals his world as he sees it, with his inconsistencies, frustrations, and memory lapses, but with the honesty of an inhabitant of the world he describes. He is no stranger to this land. And even though the readers of this book may come from widely divergent cultural backgrounds, the underlying humanity of the story is universal.

This is one of the great novels of the 20th century, and the Man Booker Prize committee agrees: in 1993 Salman Rushdie was awarded the Man Booker Prize as the best book selected in the past 25 years. It is also one of my favorite books.

5-0 out of 5 stars My All-Time Favorite
It was stunning, eye-opening, mind-boggling. Loved it. Love it. Still in my top five of all time.

5-0 out of 5 stars Rushdie's opus.
One of the major burdens one faces when watching "Citizen Kane" in the 21st century is having to determine whether or not it is the greatest film of all time; similarly, reading Salman Rushdie's "Midnight's Children" carries with it the additional burdent of whether or not it is worthy of being perhaps the most praised novel of the last 40 years (winner not only of the 1981 Booker Prize, but both the 25th and 40th anniversary Booker Prizes).As with "Kane", it's a question best put out of mind, in my opinion; better to try and assess and appreciate the book on its own terms.This was the novel that made Rushdie famous (though not the one that got the hit put out on him by the Supreme Leader), and it is indeed well worth reading.Some spoilers follow.

The high concept in "Midnight's Children" is that, in the first hour of Indian independence in 1947, 1001 children are born with special abilities (some of them fantastical, some only mildly weird and not especially useful) - the Midnight's Children, as one of them, our protagonist Saleem Sinai, calls them.Saleem, whose ability is telepathy, is one of the most powerful, and the one who locates the others.But this is not the story you might think it was just from looking at the premise, which is one of the issues some people take with the book.The children are pretty far in the background, for the most part, one or two exceptions aside; indeed, you could rewrite this novel to remove the fantasy aspects and I don't think you would change anything fundamental about it.This is perhaps a bit disappointing on one level - when the government at the end comes down hard on the Children, fearing them as potential rival 'gods', it comes across particularly strangely since they've been around for 30 years and haven't really done anything of overt significance.But then, given that Rushdie is making a bitter attack on the policies of the government during the Emergency, perhaps that is meant to heighten the pointless barbarity of it.

Rather than being about the children as a group, this is really the story of one Indian family over the course of three generations, and how the tumultous history of India in the years from the 1910s to the 1970s affects them.Our narrator Saleem begins with the story of his grandparents, moving to his parents, and only gradually do we arrive at the moment of his own birth, and his life story.As Rushdie himself notes in the foreword included in this anniversary edition, most of the figures in his family are based to some extent on people in his life (though not too much; the author notes he was annoyed that his real father was unnecessarily (in his view) offended by the fictional Ahmed Sinai).Rushdie's writing style is quite marvelously musical prose, with numerous interseting stylistic points, and he creates a very interesting narrator/narrative interacton - there's plenty of metatext and unreliable narrative employed (my personal favourite being when one chapter concludes with the unglamorous death of the main antagonist, only for the narrator to confess in the next chapter that he has no idea what happened to the villain, and is only vainly hoping that he died).I'm not normally a fan of magical realism (the works of Garcia Marquez never particularly impressed me), but Rushdie makes it work.

Though perhaps not the story one might expect, I would recommend it.

5-0 out of 5 stars Substantial Intellectual Inquiry
In Midnight's Children, Salman Rushdie integrates self-awareness with national identity. He demonstrates brilliantly how the national events in which we live influences our perceptions and worldview, and how our subsequent reactions (emotional, actual) become integral to ourselves.As when Saleem Sinai is born at the stroke of midnight on August 15, 1947, and India becomes a free nation, each of us experiences the midnight effect of being born into a nation at the moment of our birth.We are very much the product of our culture and consequential political envelope.We devise our own interpretation of events and distort them in memory to serve an (ever-changing) identity that drifts in an illusion of permanence and reality.The intentional distortion of historic events by a multitude of political factions adds to the illusionary veil of reality so that our assertions of truth and fact are further clouded.Rushdie's mystic reality is a perfect method to portray the mysticism of India, yet surely serves as a cross-cultural illustration of the deep mysticism of the human condition.We are all a chimera of our conscious/unconscious perceptions, associations, emotional reflections, and memory.The outward manifestations of change due aging are held together by the content of our surroundings; a history of events and experiences, some verifiable by supporting accounts, others more fraught with illusion and fantasy.

Midnight's Children carries the reader through a mirage of associations, reoccurring themes, and events - self-evolved by the selective recall of the author/character - in an intense reenactment of Saleem's life, a life portrayed within changing national backdrops, family, friends, loves and enemies, desires, fears, dreams, all melded in meaning and illusion.Are we the same at nine years old as at ten, or thirty, or sixty?Is vacillation in actions and convictions apparent, evident?The flow of existence is a continuity, a continuity of recalled events, external markers, and physical evidence; but of internal perceptions, beliefs, we have little empirical evidence to fall back on other than memory, a fallible proposition at best!We, like Saleem, are constantly adrift between these states.

Saleem is gifted, as a result of his magical moment of birth coinciding with his India's independence, with "...the greatest talent of all - the ability to look into the hearts and minds of men."This telepathy at an early age, however, leads to a combination of uncertainty, disillusion, and an unfocused call to action that ultimately results in a sort of observational existence, more a life of commentary and evasion than direction or goals.But maybe that's the point, direction itself is an illusion.The steps we take must surely be connected, yet the path that results is as much chance as fortitude.How were the hands dealt at birth determined?Why an estate rather than a slum, or a slum rather than an estate?It all seems real enough, until you read Midnight's Children and explore those assumptions.

4-0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece, but way too long
Rushdie's prose is dense, filled with great writing and magical imagery.The problem is that there's no real plot to make it chug along, so it's a very long read.I ended up skimming the second half of the book, so that I could brag that I finished it. ... Read more

2. Luka and the Fire of Life: A Novel
by Salman Rushdie
Hardcover: 240 Pages (2010-11-16)
list price: US$25.00 -- used & new: US$15.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0679463364
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
With the same dazzling imagination and love of language that have made Salman Rushdie one of the great storytellers of our time, Luka and the Fire of Life revisits the magic-infused, intricate world he first brought to life in the modern classic Haroun and the Sea of Stories. This breathtaking new novel centers on Luka, Haroun’s younger brother, who must save his father from certain doom.

For Rashid Khalifa, the legendary storyteller of Kahani, has fallen into deep sleep from which no one can wake him. To keep his father from slipping away entirely, Luka must travel to the Magic World and steal the ever-burning Fire of Life. Thus begins a quest replete with unlikely creatures, strange alliances, and seemingly insurmountable challenges as Luka and an assortment of enchanted companions race through peril after peril, pass through the land of the Badly Behaved Gods, and reach the Fire itself, where Luka’s fate, and that of his father, will be decided.

Filled with mischievous wordplay and delving into themes as universal as the power of filial love and the meaning of mortality, Luka and the Fire of Life is a book of wonders for all ages. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (9)

5-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, cute novel
I thought Haroun and the Sea of Stories was an adorable little novel, so it was with much anticipation and excitement that I picked up Luka and the Fire of Life.Once again, the reader is plunged into the World of Magic, hoping that Luka can act quickly enough to save his beloved father.

Though Luka and the Fire of Life is a sequel, it easily stands on its own two feet.The two novels do have common elements, but reading one is not necessary to understand the other.Rushdie gives the reader a quick summary of the events of Haroun and the Sea of Stories; as a result, you know all you need to going into the story.Still, though, I do recommend reading both books, if only because they are both adorable and have their own quirks and strengths.That being said, it is definitely not necessary to read them in order, though if you are going to read both, I'd strike down the more conventional path in order to avoid spoilers.

Luka and the Fire of Life actually has the feel of a video game.Luka gains and loses lives throughout his adventures, and the World of Magic has different levels he must get through before he can reach his final goal.There are even save points, so if Luka "dies", he won't have to repeat what he's already done.As someone who enjoys the occasional video game, this really appealed to me.I thought it was incredibly creative to take something that is huge in popular culture and make it literary.As this book is easy to read and a lot of fun, I do wonder if that aspect will make it appeal to younger readers who are more likely to play games than read a book.

If you aren't familiar with video games or don't enjoy them, I don't think that will preclude you from enjoying the novel.Just like Haroun and the Sea of Stories, Luka and the Fire of Life is easy to read.It's not laden down with literary devices and heavy prose; in other words, it's a wonderful introduction to Rushdie's writing.While Salman Rushdie is an amazing author, his works can be very daunting, especially if you are unfamiliar with his writing style.Luka introduces the reader to his love of magical realism, but is short and will appeal to many different age groups.

The message of Luka and the Fire of Life is a wonderful one.The entire book is a bow to the amazing gift of storytelling and how powerful it can be.And Rushdie himself is a wonderful teller of stories, drawing the reader into a charming world.While this novel isn't quite as hefty or deep as Rushdie's other works, it's a great reminder of why he's such a celebrated author.

4.5 stars rounded up to 5

4-0 out of 5 stars Much deeper than it appears
I regret to admit that this is the first book I have read by Sir Salman Rushdie, having known of his work for many years, and having long wished to read The Satanic Verses: A Novel.As mentioned by so many previous reviewers, this particular work is a sequel, but I did not find difficulty in reading the work as a result of not having read the previous work, Haroun and the Sea of Stories.

There is much to commend Rushdie's writing in this volume, though I would not consider it necessarily a great work of literature.He does incorporate elements from various great works of literature, however, and some of the most entertaining, to me at least, were references to those elements studied by classicists the world over.The story is shot throughout with lively references to mythologies and the old gods and goddesses of the ancients, something that has always produced a fascination within me.Perhaps this is the main reason I enjoyed "Luka."

Another reason this book was pleasing to me is that Rushdie's prose, though on a level that could be understood by a ten to twelve year old, is eloquent enough to be pleasing to someone with a much higher reading level, with language and subtle suggestions thrown in that hold the attention of the more mature in the audience.We see techniques like this in almost all animated movies that are produced, and though we adults may watch them for the children we bring along, there is always something that flies right over their heads, intended for us.

I give this four stars, as any book deserves (at the least) when it makes me want to read more of an author's material.

4-0 out of 5 stars Imagination for Imagination's Sake
`Luka and the Fire of Life' was written for Rushdie's twelve-year-old son, and so one might conclude that it is geared for a middle-grade audience. And, certainly, the lyrical style and the purely magical energy of the of the tale seem to suit a younger audience. But, like all great children's stories, `Luka' has plenty to keep the adult mind engaged, and can be enjoyed by readers of all ages.

Readers not familiar with Salman Rushdie's style might be taken aback by this piece. `Luka and the Fire of Life' is, like Rushdie's other works, highly imaginative almost to a point of bizarre. It opens with the introduction of a dog named Bear and a bear named Dog, the former who can dance and latter who cannot dance but can sing with perfect pitch. We later meet a character named Nobody who ensures that he is no-Nonsense, which is to say that he is not named `Nonsense', who is another character.

The verbal high jinks are found throughout the book, and one is left feeling a little dizzy after such an adventure. It is not unlike the feeling of reading Lewis Carroll's `Alice in Wonderland' or, to a lesser degree, L. Frank. Baum's `Wizard of Oz'. Rushdie's creative word play is definitely inspired by theirs (witness Lewis Carroll's joke about the farmer who passes `Nobody' on the road), and, it must be admitted, rivals them in form and character.

A word of warning should be made on the nature of some of the word play, seeing as how some of the allusions are more adult in nature and may not be suited for all twelve-year-olds. For example, one character's name is Rats-hit without the hyphen, and there are sexual references that would not have ever been made by Carroll or Baum. Indeed, this reader would find it hard to share this book with a young audience for the simple fact that there seems to be little taken seriously in this book at all. One might suspect that absurdity can be entertaining only when there is a firm ground of sound logic in the first place.

`Luka' is imagination for the sake of imagination and nothing else. And, as long as one is willing to enjoy it for the pure creativity of it, it is worth a read.

5-0 out of 5 stars Marvelous sequel to Haroun and the Sea of Stories
In the city of Kahani, in the land of Alifbay, lived the storyteller Rashid Khalifa, his wife, Soraya, and their two sons, Haroun and Luka. One day, the great circus called the Great Rings of Fire came to town.When the circus parade came by, and Luka saw the sad, mistreated animals, he cursed the Ringmaster, Captain Aag, and the animals stopped obeying and the fires burned the tents.So into the life of Luka came the dog, Bear, and the bear, Dog, from the circus.

Then into Luka's life came sadness, because Captain Aag took his revenge, and the storyteller, Rashid Khalifa fell ill and was like to die.One early morning, Luka saw his father in the yard, but wait!It was not his father, but his father's death, come to claim him. But, as in all good fairy tales, Luka made a deal with death, also called Nobodaddy, and Luka, Nobodaddy, the dog called Bear and the bear called Dog go on a quest to steal the Fire of Life in the World of Magic.

You will find in the story of Luka's quest reminders of the thousand and one nights and of video games.Rushdie has immense fun with puns and wordplay, and you will, too!Here in this world we find the old gods, from Greece and Sumer and Egypt and all the world, flying carpets and Fire Bugs.Nothing is what it seems, allegiances shift, and Luka and his companions must ever be on the alert, gathering and losing and regaining lives as they move on from level to level.Luka's love for his father causes him to defy Time, to risk his own life, and to conquer his fears.

If you haven't read Haroun and the Sea of Stories,don't worry.It's not necessary to have read that book to enjoy this one.But those who have read and loved the story of Luka's older brother will surely not want to miss the saga of the younger sibling.

4-0 out of 5 stars Entertaining but with a depth of its own
It's been 20 years since the publication of "Haroun and the Sea of Stories."With "Luka and the Fire of Life," Salman Rushdie invites readers to join storyteller, Rashid Khalifa and his family once again for further adventures in the World of Magic.

Time has passed in the land of Alifbay and some things have changed.Shopping malls have replaced the sadness factories in Kahani, the city where the Khalifas live.Haroun is 30 years old and is no longer an only child.He now has a younger brother, Luka who is at that age when, as Haroun warns him, "people in this family cross the border into the magical world."Haroun was 12 when he set out to the World of Magic to save his father's storytelling abilities.Now, Luka must journey to the same enchanted world, but this time to save his father's life.

The World of Magic may be one of the common denominators in "Sea of Stories" and "Fire of Life," but Luka's quest to reach the Mountain of Knowledge to steal the Fire that will restore his father to life is a nod to the ubiquity of computers and technology today.Luka considers himself the Grandmaster of Games--video games, that is.Mr. Rushdie has structured Luka's adventure like a video game.Each stop along the journey and the challenge Luka must face there is a level that must be completed and saved (he actually has to press a "Save" button).Though Luka is accompanied by the ominous specter that calls himself Nobodaddy and looks like his father, he is not without allies in his adventure. He sets out accompanied by Bear, the dog, and Dog, the bear, both escapees from the circus and later befriends Elephant Birds, dragons, and the incomparable Insultana, Queen of Ott.

The video game analogy may make "Luka and the Fire of Life" more relevant and more palatable to younger readers who may or may not miss Mr. Rushdie's clever word play and the references to ancient mythology, literature and film. Beyond the trivia, the silliness, the riot and the godly clashes, "Luka and the Fire of Life" carries valuable messages about the importance of stories as builders of individual and cultural identity, about how our own minds can made us soar or imprison us, and about the universal need to find the meaning of life and death.This novel is a book to be read aloud.It is a word feast to the eye, the ears and the mind.Irreverent, ridiculous, funny and yet profound, "Luka and the Fire of Life" pays homage to our long history of and penchant for creativity and imagination.

... Read more

3. The Enchantress of Florence: A Novel
by Salman Rushdie
Paperback: 368 Pages (2009-01-06)
list price: US$14.00 -- used & new: US$3.74
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0679640517
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
The Enchantress of Florence is the story of a mysterious woman, a great beauty believed to possess the powers of enchantment and sorcery, attempting to command her own destiny in a man’s world. It is the story of two cities at the height of their powers–the hedonistic Mughal capital, in which the brilliant emperor Akbar the Great wrestles daily with questions of belief, desire, and the treachery of his sons, and the equally sensual city of Florence during the High Renaissance, where Niccolò Machiavelli takes a starring role as he learns, the hard way, about the true brutality of power. Profoundly moving and completely absorbing, The Enchantress of Florence is a dazzling book full of wonders by one of the world’s most important living writers.Amazon.com Review
Amazon Best of the Month, June 2008: Trying to describe a Salman Rushdie novel is like trying to describe music to someone who has never heard it--you can fumble with a plot summary but you won't be able to convey the wonder of his dazzling prose or the imaginative complexity of his vision. At its heart, The Enchantress of Florence is about the power of story--whether it is the imagined life of a Mughal queen, or the devastating secret held by a silver-tongued Florentine. Make no mistake, it is Rushdie who is the true "enchanter" of this story, conjuring readers into his gilded fairy tale from the very first sentence: "In the day's last light the glowing lake below the palace-city looked like a sea of molten gold." At once bawdy, gorgeous, gory, and hilarious, The Enchantress of Florence is a study in contradiction, highlighted in its barbarian philosopher-king who detests his bloodthirsty heritage even while he carries it out. Full of rich sentences running nearly the length of a page, Rushdie's 10th novel blends fact and fable into a challenging but satisfying read. --Daphne Durham

... Read more

Customer Reviews (95)

3-0 out of 5 stars Enchantress of Florence
Sir Salman Rushdie, best known for The Satanic Verses which earned him multiple death threats forcing him to leave his native land and live in Britain, returns with what he calls his "most researched book" which took "years and years of reading," in The Enchantress of Florence.A remarkable novel told in a way that mixes story with history and fable, making it seem like an enchanting tale á la Thousand and One Nights that leaves one wondering which parts of it are true and which are from the imaginative mind of Rushdie.An enigmatic character from distant Florence pays a visit to the Mughal emperor Akbar the Great.Through Rushdie's eyes we see two very difference worlds: the high renaissance of Italy juxtaposed with that of India.The magic in this story is indirect and subtle, lending it a romantic and fantastic air that simply adds to the setting and plot.It is Salman Rushdie at his best, telling wonderful, moving, magical stories within stories.

Originally written on January 18th 2009 ©Alex C. Telander.

Originally published in the Sacramento Book Review.

For more book reviews and exclusive author interviews, go to [...]

3-0 out of 5 stars You have to be into "historical fantasy"
Obviously very well written.Descriptions are vivid; language is beautiful (in places).Loved the historical side of this, but sometimes got very lost in the fantasy.A number of times I had to go back and reread as I just wasn't sure of what was happening.

Still, it kept me interested.I'm just not sure that that type of literature is my cup of tea.Love historical fiction, but want to keep it real.

5-0 out of 5 stars A feast of extravagant prose
I love Salman Rushdie.

He has a unique writing style that combines history with flights of fancy and cascades of flamboyant prose.It is a little hard to describe without actually reading the stuff, but the words gush in a torrent.The mundane becomes magical.Mystery spins out from the banal.Characters interact, conspire, and counter-conspire in intricate webs of synchronicity.Superstition, imagination, and delusion insert themselves into reality in delightfully unpredictable ways.Romance triumphs in every culture and in every social class. You learn about history through the lens of historical fiction.

I did not know anything about this period of Indian history when I began reading this book and came out with some intriguing glimpses, not into facts, but into the way mythos biases perception and a particular set of cultural lenses.

3-0 out of 5 stars bad quality of the book
First I would like to turn your attention to the bad quality of printing and book assembly workmanship

I bought the new book from Amazon, but first 20 pages are completely unattached from the core.

Please follow up with the publisher.


2-0 out of 5 stars A Spasm of Storytelling and a Morass of Names
To my relief i just finished this book.I feel fortunate that I will no longer be backtracking in the novel to figure out the relationship of Vespuccii to Ago and Salim to "The One Who Shines".

No doubt that Rushdie is at times a great writer but in this book the greatness seems like a moment of brilliance in a delirious ramble.As I read this at times I was enchanted by the characters and the story only moments later to be lost in some byzantine connection of time, place and relationship.

I and my wife read this after hearing great accolades from a review on Public Radio and in several magazines.I am sorry that we both did not share the enthusiasm they had for this book. ... Read more

4. The Satanic Verses: A Novel
by Salman Rushdie
Paperback: 576 Pages (2008-03-11)
list price: US$16.00 -- used & new: US$9.18
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0812976711
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
One of the most controversial and acclaimed novels ever written, The Satanic Verses is Salman Rushdie’s best-known and most galvanizing book. Set in a modern world filled with both mayhem and miracles, the story begins with a bang: the terrorist bombing of a London-bound jet in midflight. Two Indian actors of opposing sensibilities fall to earth, transformed into living symbols of what is angelic and evil. This is just the initial act in a magnificent odyssey that seamlessly merges the actual with the imagined. A book whose importance is eclipsed only by its quality, The Satanic Verses is a key work of our times.Amazon.com Review
No book in modern times has matched the uproar sparked by SalmanRushdie's The Satanic Verses, which earned its author a death sentence.Furor aside, it is a marvelously erudite study of good and evil, a feast oflanguage served up by a writer at the height of his powers, and a rollickingcomic fable. The book begins with two Indians, Gibreel Farishta ("forfifteen years the biggest star in the history of the Indian movies") andSaladin Chamcha, a Bombay expatriate returning from his first visit to hishomeland in 15 years, plummeting from the sky after the explosion of theirjetliner, and proceeds through a series of metamorphoses, dreams andrevelations. Rushdie's powers of invention are astonishing in this WhitbreadPrize winner. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (236)

2-0 out of 5 stars The description did not match the product - disapointed
The description said that the product was almost as good as new, but on arrival i noticed the pages were worn and loose. Not shopping at this shopper ever again.

1-0 out of 5 stars over my head
Well, this book is famous you-know-why.

But if you put all that aside and address it purely on its artistic merits, there's not much here.It's crammed with allusions, hallucinatory episodes, and flat characters.

Maybe I'm just angry because I found this book simply too difficult to read.I couldn't make it more than halfway through.But I'm slaggin' on it here because, unlike other difficult books that I couldn't finish, at no point did I ever discern that the difficulty of the novel was founded on a core of literary excellence.What I mean is that if you were to get turned off by reading, say, William Gaddis, Propertius, or David Jones, you'd at least have the satisfaction of suspecting that there really was something behind the curtain, something worthwhile that beckoned you to return when you were ready.I didn't get that with this book.

Another reviewer warns that "knowledge of Islam and Indian culture" is essential before attempting this.I agree:only problem is that life's too short, and even if you were to somehow gain the requisite knowledge, I have a hunch you'd still find this book disappointing.I guess one of these days, somebody will come out with an edition of this with extensive footnotes, and we'll more or less be able to judge at that point.

5-0 out of 5 stars A satire on the never-ending delusions of humanity
This is a tour de force, a show of strength, a performance.It's the sort of novel that requires a Big Style and a lot of learning to write.It's not the sort of thing that can be attempted by just anybody.

I could not write this book.Few people besides Rushdie could even attempt it.It is stamped with the mark of the man himself--his culture, his milieu, his education, his beliefs, his passion and his experience.

And what are "The Satanic Verses"?They are lyrical yearnings made verbal depicting the clash between the world of rationality and that of superstition, between the world at the time of the Prophet and today's world, between the cold fog of England and the hot sweat of India and the Middle East, between the rationality of the Enlightenment and the mythology of a time long ago, between a secular interpretation of life and a religious one.In short there really is a clash of civilizations that is being worked out in today's world, and Rushdie is here to give us his take on this earth-shaking process.

Normally I would not read such a novel.Five hundred and sixty-one pages--over 200,000 words!Life is too short to give that much time to a singular view.Better to risk the time on Tolstoy, Melville or Joyce where one has the report of literary history as a guide.Here we have a novel reviled and revered but only a little over 22 years of age.A lot of flash and glimmer goes by the way of the popular mind toward something Great, but in time may be more clearly seen as pedestrian, even banal, faddish and brought before our eyes by the celebrity of some event--like a sentence of murder upon its author--only to fade with the yellowing of the newspapers of yesteryear.

I will say however that "The Satanic Verses" will outlive its author and will outlive the memory of the Ayatollah Komenini who did in fact issue a fatwa calling for Rushdie's death, and thereby greatly increased not only the sales of the book but helped to spread Rushdie's message that Islam is a religion full of evil, lies and deceit, born like most religions from the very human lust for power.It will stay in print for decades and remain a torn in the side of the followers of the Prophet until they lose their hatreds, their prejudices and especially their fears.Yes, Islam fears.It fears science, education, Western culture, women and much of what constitutes the post-modern world. Unlike learned arguments and reasoned debates or shouting matches that change no minds, this novel will persuade many (mostly young) minds that a religion born in the barren, superstitious desert, sired by the tribal mentality of the Bronze Age, and forced upon others by the sword has no more relevance to today's problems and challenges than the religions it replaced.

The problem for the reader is not the length of the novel.It is in the fact that few readers will have the background necessary to appreciate much of the references, allusions, puns, jokes, asides, and other bits of wordsmithing from the very cosmopolitan and worldly Salman Rushdie.But no matter.It will require some effort of attention and concentration, some very real investment of time and effort on the part of the reader; but as the pages turn and the fantasy begins to stand out from the realism, as the time of Mahound clashes clearly with the time of an Indian/Muslim Bollywood actor, as the Ayesha of ancient is differentiated from the Ayesha of today, as the Gibreel of the film is made distinct from the Gibreel of legend--indeed as the web of mystery and magic, of fact and fantasy, of goats and gods becomes a fabric like a woven rug of artistry, one begins to appreciate Rushdie's intent and artistry.And this is the way it is with all great works of literature: there are levels.On the level of the mass mind, there is a world of people and events; on the level of the initiated, there is added a rich vocabulary of shared intellectual experiences.But Rushdie is no dry intellectual novelist: he can create intriguing characters and the tension necessary to sustain a narrative.

Now what is needed (I believe) for all but the most learned readers is a guide to the novel written by someone who knows Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, modern culture and has a good grasp of their histories.Such a guide will be written by some academic somewhere--and indeed may have already been written, or is being written.

And so I read the novel from beginning to end and found it uneven and marvelous, a bit obtuse at first but as my familiarity with Rushdie's intent, style, and structure grew, so too did my enjoyment of this rich satire.Yes, this is a satire similar in intent to the works of Voltaire or Twain however distant in style they may be.It is a satire upon not only Islam and Hinduism and the mass culture from Dhaka to Manchester, but a satire on the never-ending delusions of a pitiful, but ever hopeful humanity.

3-0 out of 5 stars A Very Challenging Read
Lauded on the cover of Satanic Verses is the statement: "#1 NEW YOUR TIMES BESTSELLER."I have to believe that boast addresses the number of books sold and not the number read.I consider myself to be a fairly well-educated, sophisticated reader, but found this to be a most difficult book to read--and to complete.
My difficulty arose from several factors:
1.The book assumes (requires?) a working knowledge and appreciation of, Islam and Arabic culture--which I lack.Not only are there undoubtedly many nuances lost on the uninitiated, but these gaps in knowledge can make the various stories difficult to follow, understand and/or appreciate.
2.To further complicate matters, this book is "a frame story." As defined in Wikepedia, "a frame story (also anatomy, frame tale, frame narrative, etc.) employs a narrative technique whereby an introductory main story is composed, at least in part, for the purpose of setting the stage for a fictive narrative or organizing a set of shorter stories, each of which is a story within a story."Each of the stories are independent, but yet, interrelated (again, nuances lost heightened by the lack of background).To exacerbate the problems associated with this challenging structure, several of the stories have completely different characters living in different cities and eras with the same names as in other stories.I suspect this was done for literary effect, which effect was largely lost on me.
3.Rushdie has a unique writing style, that takes some getting used to.
4.Finally, the stories are largely told from the viewpoint of an Indian immigrant in England.While there are some universal themes that can be appreciated by any reader, regardless of background, there are others that would no doubt be more meaningful to some readers sharing ethnic or national backgrounds.
Notwithstanding these rather meaningful obstacles, I found large stretches of several stories to be quite compelling.I was able to enjoy the book as a series of several independent short stories, as opposed to the unified novel it was no doubt written to be.Unfortunately, reading the novel in this manner prevented me from appreciating the larger themes Rushdie no doubt intended to present to the reader.
(In all fairness to Rushdie, there is absolutely no reason to expect that he would dumb down the book for me--particularly since there are study guides for this book readily available on the internet.I guess I just didn't want to work that hard.)

5-0 out of 5 stars More applause for Salman
An exciting trip through real and visionary worlds--with enough characters and scene changes to keep you challenged.Rushdie's sly sense of humor allows him to poke fun at his world with biting clarity. Part nonsense with a mock-serious facade--from the incredible opening sequences to the somber/comedic finale. Enjoy the dream. ... Read more

5. Shame: A Novel
by Salman Rushdie
Paperback: 320 Pages (2008-03-11)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$7.97
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0812976703
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

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The novel that set the stage for his modern classic, The Satanic Verses, Shame is Salman Rushdie’s phantasmagoric epic of an unnamed country that is “not quite Pakistan.” In this dazzling tale of an ongoing duel between the families of two men–one a celebrated wager of war, the other a debauched lover of pleasure–Rushdie brilliantly portrays a world caught between honor and humiliation–“shamelessness, shame: the roots of violence.” Shame is an astonishing story that grows more timely by the day. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (24)

4-0 out of 5 stars A good assigned reading
I was required to get this book for my postcolonial literature class. Many of the characters serve as an allegory to Pakistani politicians. Rushdie's writing style is unlike any other's I have read. His sentences can run up to fourteen lines long. This book is also an example of metafiction; Rushdie will often interrupt the story to remind readers this book is fictional and the leaders fake. He calls attention to what is happening in the real world, saying changes don't come quite so easily as they do in a book, and he offers an intriguing glimpse into how and why he invented the characters. I like Rushdie, and intend to read more of his works.

4-0 out of 5 stars Pakistan's Politics, Rushdie Style
This is more of a long political essay. But, since it is Rushdie, and, since it is fiction (almost), it has his normal touch of the magical and the exaggerated.

I haven't disliked this many characters in one book since Richardson's "Clarissa"! I am very glad I never had the opportunity to meet any of them.

Overall, I wasn't as moved as I usually am by one of his books. The whole book was a downer, but well worth the read for the history lesson.

4-0 out of 5 stars APakistan of the Mind
This book is written with Rushdie's characteristic verbal precision and wry humor. The prose is not nearly as dense as in, say, Shalimar the Clown. It's hilarious and still tragic, with a narrative style that is joyfully exuberant. This modern fairytale of Pakistan was very sobering to read in the weeks after the assassination of Benazir Bhutto.

5-0 out of 5 stars Pakistan - Myth and Disillusion
If Salman Rushdie had written only this book, he would be remembered. Unfortunately, his reputation is colored by extra-literary considerations. I guess a Fatwah will do that.

Another cloud over the success of this novel is the brilliance of the author's previous book "Midnight's Children." Both texts mythologize a country - its history and culture. However, while "Midnight" is about India, "Shame" is about Pakistan. While the previous book's best insights are political, the former tome offers a unique look into the heart of religion - namely, Islam.

So there are certainly similarities between the two books, but "Shame" holds its own admirably. From the first sentence, you know you're in the hands of a master. While this may not be the best point to enter the author's uniqiue world, it's a wonderful place to continue the journey.

4-0 out of 5 stars A slightly inferior version of Midnight's Children
I recommend this book only for the diehard Rushdie fans.It has a lot of similiarites to one of his other books, Midnight's Children,-the weaving between fantasy and reality, the slightly amused but occasionally serious tone, the scathing critique of real-life middle east/Pakistan/India politics.What it lacks is cohesion, I considered it a bit difficult to wade through.I do disagree with a previous reviewer, you really need to give this book one hundred pages to see if you like it, by then it's too late, might as well finish.Read Midnight's Children first, and if you hate or are lukewarm to that story, stay clear of this one.Otherwise, enjoy! ... Read more

6. Grimus: A Novel (Modern Library Paperbacks)
by Salman Rushdie
Paperback: 320 Pages (2003-09-30)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$4.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0812969995
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
The first novel by one of our greatest novelists, restored to print by the Modern Library

After drinking an elixir that bestows immortality upon him, a young Indian named Flapping Eagle spends the next seven hundred years sailing the seas with the blessing, and ultimately the burden, of living forever. Eventually, he grows weary of the sameness of life and journeys to the mountainous Calf Island to regain his mortality. There he meets other immortals obsessed with their own stasis, and he sets out to scale the island’s peak, from which the mysterious and corrosive Grimus Effect emits. Through a series of thrilling quests and encounters, Flapping Eagle comes face-to-face with the island’s creator and unwinds the mysteries of his own humanity. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (15)

3-0 out of 5 stars Complicated, but worth finishing.
As someone who is not a regular reader of Rushdie's works, I'm going into this review fairly unaffected by any sort of opinion of him formed by other works (I just picked up "East, West" though to give his short stories a look).

Grimus can be confusing at times.Especially in the first half, you may lose patience with it.I would have liked to give the book a three and a half star review, but obviously I can't, and the work it seems to take to get through the first half of the book is what made me round down instead of up.

I really enjoyed the concept of the book; it's certainly weird, twisted fantasy writing.Rushdie creates a world that you constantly question--not because Rushdie has consistency problems, but beceause the world really is meant to be debated--is it real, or isn't it?

Some characters are better crafted than others, but most of them I found engaging and added interesting stories to the town (but also further complicated the plot).

To be honest, my first reaction to this book was "WTF?!"...but you learn to love those "WTF" moments.At least I did.I will say though that those moments may gross out some readers, or just skeeze them out enough to make it "not their kind of book."But for those of you who welcome the weird, and who are willing to wade through some of the confusion at the beginning, the book delivers a fairly entertaining ride.

3-0 out of 5 stars Much respect to Mr. Rushdie, but I did struggle here.
I hate to admit it (but I have to), but it took me too long to finish this novel. I started it out of respect for the great and mighty Rushdie, who I certainly know of, but had not read anything by, in the interest of going chronologically through his canon.
I look forward to venturing into his others worlds, and will hold Grimus up as a marker to where his art can be said to have begun. And an astonishing art it is.
Grimus, reviewed here fairly thoroughly, was a dense and frequently dry exploration of immortality, passion, interdimensional adventure and sexual ardore for me, with sparks of inspiring passages and images of heightened observation and creation, internal tumult and ecstatic realizations. I found the trip Flapping Eagle takes from Axona to Calf Mountain, to K to Grimushome interesting, but too long. Perhaps too thorough. I hesitate to criticize a giant of literary creativity, but I can't deny my own struggles.
I appreciated the whimsical entries Rushdie takes into the minds and hearts of his chracters, though I cared only for a few of them, and by the time I finished the read I mixed up Ignatius Gribb, Nicholas Denggle (sp?) and even the important Virgil Jones. Sorry to say, but so be it.
I would recommend this to people interested in Rushdie, and I am happy I finished it. I hold up it's frequent visions of interstellar consciousness, centuries old wanderings and a beautiful conclusion, as the molecules of an immortal world finally alter, as the pieces of Grimus that touched me.

4-0 out of 5 stars Not your typical sci-fi
This is my first Rushdie, and putting aside whether it's representative of his other works, I will say that I enjoyed this book enough that I definitely intend to revisit this author in the future.In that respect alone, I'd say it's a successful first novel, since it makes me want to read more of Rushdie's ostensibly better works.

That being said, this book is certainly fantastical, though the language is crafted in such a way that it didn't exactly strike me as sci-fi until I read reviews on the back of the book describing it as such.I didn't have much trouble accepting the absurd qualities of the worlds (or dimensions) that Rushdie had created, but others might.Then again, you might be all for that, but have a harder time with the more philosophical aspects of the novel, as some of Rushdie's characters have the propensity to soliloquize about fairly weighty concepts.This was probably my least favorite element to the novel, as these explorations tended to cause the story to come to a grinding halt.They happened frequently enough that the novel winds up with an uneven pacing, which can make it a struggle to get through at times, but ultimately I'm glad I stuck with it and enjoyed reading it.It's a great book to discuss and has a lot of big ideas, so despite its slim size, it's definitely not a light read.Comparisons to "Alice and Wonderland" are quite apt.If you'd like something that's a bit unconventional and are fine with a slightly challenging read, then I'd recommend giving this a shot.

5-0 out of 5 stars An enchanting work by the greatest writer alive!
An enchanting work by the greatest writer alive!

3-0 out of 5 stars Decent, But Not Exceptional, Literary Debut From Salman Rushdie
Much to my amazement, Salman Rushdie's first novel, "Grimus", is a metaphysical science fiction novel which thematically most closely resembles Ursula K. Le Guin's classic fiction from the 1960s and 1970s. However, having said this, I won't charitably describe "Grimus" as a fine example of science fiction - in stark contrast to the view expressed by another recent Amazon.com customer reviewer - since I have read more memorable, thought provoking fiction from the likes of Samuel Delany, James Tiptree, Jr., Joanna Russ, and of course, Le Guin, herself; all of whom wrote some of the most memorable science fiction published in the English language during the 1960s and 1970s. Rushdie redeems himself here only by virtue of the fact that he's demonstrating that he's a fine prose stylist, writing some rather memorable passages throughout the book. However, his main protagonist, Flapping Eagle, an American Indian of the Axona tribe, is fundamentally a cypher, for whom I had little interest in or appreciation of the various episodes involving him within this book. "Grimus" deserves a marginal recommendation only because it is Rushdie's first novel, providing a brief glimpse into some of the elegant prose he would use to such superlative effect in "Midnight's Children". ... Read more

7. The Wizard of Oz (BFI Film Classics)
by Salman Rushdie
Paperback: 96 Pages (1992-05-27)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$4.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0851703003
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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frontis., 19 color and 16 b&w photos"The Wizard of Oz was my very first literary influence," writes Salman Rushdie in his account of the great MGM children's classic. At the age of ten he had written a story, "Over the Rainbow," about a colorful fantasy world. But for Rushdie The Wizard of Oz is more than a children's film, and more than a fantasy. It's a story whose driving force is the inadequacy of adults, where the weakness of grown-ups forces children to take control of their own destinies. Rushdie rejects the conventional view that its fantasy of escape from reality ends with a comforting return to home, sweet home. On the contrary, it is a film that speaks to the exile. The Wizard of Oz shows that imagination can become reality, that there is no such place like home, or rather that the only home is the one we make for ourselves. Rushdie's brilliant insights into a film more often seen than written about are rounded off with a typically scintillating new short story, "At the Auction of the Ruby Slippers," about the day when Dorothy's red shoes are knocked down to $15,000 at a sale of MGM props.Amazon.com Review
While Salman Rushdie has treasured The Wizard of Ozsince his boyhood, the movie's idea of returning "home" hashad a special resonance for him as an adult. In this lovelyappreciation of the MGM classic, Rushdie does not dwell upon hiscontinual flight from any "home" after writing TheSatanic Verses. But his affinity for Dorothy and her predicamentcomes through in his analysis.

This is a marvelous little book, full of wonderful tidbits about themaking of The Wizard of Oz. Rushdie also talks about themovie's contrast of black and white and color, order and disorder,good and evil. The volume ends with "At the Auction of the RubySlippers," a surrealistic short story in which Rushdie meditateson the value of fantasies like The Wizard of Oz. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (13)

5-0 out of 5 stars A gem
I first read this via the New Yorker version. For the first time I understood why this film, underneath its surface glitter and sentimentality, is haunting, bleak and beautiful. Read it and see the film again as if for the first time.

5-0 out of 5 stars Quite Nice
It's impossible to separate The Wizard of Oz from the deep emotion it inspires. The movie rapidly plunges a viewer back into childhood fears/dreams and the context in which one first saw it.

But by handing this topic to the improbable figure of Salmon Rushdie, an essay follows that persaudes open minds of how deeply personal and specific a movie becomes after one cathects it. For that I found the piece to be a revelation; as a way of opening a topic one thought as so general as to reject non-approved non-mass narratives; the deeply personal nature of a reading of a film; and the beauty/value of film writing to offer readers thoughtful personal associations. It changed the way I wrote about film.

This is the exact opposite of bad film-writing in which some self-christened film snob sits on his throne, beknighting utterly safe products because of their good taste and high production values, while appealing to some non-existant "objective" set of criteria. Inevitably the jackass will use the word "masterpiece" which is how you know he's a bad writer; Whenever you see the word in a review, just substitute "Don't question me, or my inability to use language to persaude you of this film's merit!"

P.U. You can keep the ninety percent of film writing that issues from that horrid, unpromising foundation. Rushdie's reminiscences go back to his childhood in India, which is both the last place you'd imagine a strong reading of this most American film to come from, and miraculously, yes, a vivid, strong analysis of The Wizard of Oz.

4-0 out of 5 stars Rushdie the essayist and Rushdie the storyteller in one volume...
Watching a film armed with a "remote control zapper" can yield insights unknown to the non-stop viewer. After all, freeze frames, with their enviable power to stop time, allow for far more than infinitesimal nanoseconds of reflection. Using the "pause" trigger in this way arguably transforms it into an educational tool.

Salman Rushdie, who usually frolics in literature's realm, applies this method to one of America's most beloved and taken for granted films, 1939's "The Wizard of Oz." Many in the US have let this film sink into their collective cultural unconscious without questioning its presuppositions, implications and logic. Rushdie, wielding his wireless time control device, cuts to the essence. Insights spew from the paragraphs. Almost immediately, he equates the film's story, mood, and themes to the "Bollywood" movies he grew up on in India. One exception to this comparison remains the film's secular sub themes. He summarizes, "nothing is deemed more important than the loves, cares, and needs of human beings." It also had enduring literary influence on his very first and later works.

But he doesn't like the "cloying" ending and asks the almost heretical question: who would want to return to THAT Kansas? Those of us who absorbed the movie as children of course wanted, empathetically, to see Dorothy return to the safety of her parents and home. But, Rushdie argues, Dorothy's gray scale Kansas is no paradise: her parents seem impotent in the face of Miss Gulch's (aka "Wicked Witch of the West") threats against Toto (who annoys Rushdie; and in yet another probable heresy to fans, he writes, "Toto: that little yapping hairpiece of a creature, that meddlesome rug!"). So why would she want to return? Rushdie would have preferred a Dorothy who outgrows Kansas and remains in fully actualized Technicolor splendor. In the film she grows up and... goes back. Obviously, Hollywood did not want to encourage runaway fantasies. And the "there's no place like home" mantra delivers the much disseminated Great Depression message that "everything's okay. What you have is just fine." Still, he has a point about the ending's "mixed message." Longtime "Oz" fans may not appreciate this rumination, but Rushdie has never been one to please for the sake of pleasing (as his work and life more than manifest).

Rushdie includes other revealing tidbits. For one, simple geometric shapes symbolize home and safety, while the shapeless and twisted stands for evil. Not only that, the movie presents, like the "Star Wars" and "Lord of the Rings" of today and the stage melodramas of yesterday, a strict visual and moral dichotomy of good and evil. The Good Witch Glinda's famous quote, "only bad witches are ugly," crystallizes this idea as only sound bites can. A tragedy was also averted: the producers almost removed "Over the Rainbow." Rushdie candidly calls this, "proof positive that Hollywood makes its masterpieces by accident, because it simply does not know what it is doing." In a sad revelation, the cast didn't seem to have any fun during the filming. Margaret Hamilton was injured, as was her double, and felt ostracized. Philandering Munchkins took Hollywood by storm. The film also resembles a postmodern "authorless text" by virtue of its voluminous screenwriters and recuttings. In spite of this, Rushdie heaps praise on the virtues of the film. He even calls it "art." Rushdie's deconstruction somehow makes the film more accessible and poignant. It emerges from this short essay, which also appears in Rushdie's2002 non-fiction collection "Step Across this Line" (though without pictures), as a strong and in no way emasculated masterpiece.

A short story was appended to the essay. Rushdie calls it a fictionalized account of the auction of the ruby slippers (a pair of which sold in 1970 for $15,000). It is much more than that. In near Vonnegut style, the story explores the less than desirable aura and implications of crazed fandom. The setting seems to be the future and the present; part macabre science fiction, part first person narrative description. It also appeared in Rushdie's 1994 short fiction collection "East-West." Like nowhere else, the best of both worlds collide in this tiny British Film Institute book. It showcases both Rushdie the essayist and Rushdie the storyteller. Those looking for a quick glimpse of one of today's most discussed authors may want to start here.

5-0 out of 5 stars Because it's a fun read.
This is an excellent comprehensive on the MGM classic, The Wizard of Oz.Rushdie is able to go into the innate symbolism of the film without becoming overly-sentimental or dry.He relates his own story growing up in the 1940's when the film first toured, and how it affected people during the war time.He then goes into the approaches to how the film was directed, the transitions from black and white to color, the personalities behind the actors and how it is the film remains irreplaceable to this day.This is a great book to pass on to a friend in the hospital, to cheer them up, or give to someone for a birthday.If you are a film-buff or collector of Oz, you will want a copy of this book.Pages are smooth and shiny, loaded with photos.

4-0 out of 5 stars for a film class
I really enjoyed this book. I had to read it for a film analysis and aesthetics class, along with many other BFI books, and it was my favorite one. I would have read it even if I weren't in the class -- Rushdie offers a personal take on a classic movie, and his reading (one that says youth is constantly looking for a technicolor world far away from their grounding, drab home life) is one easily relatable. I recommend it to any fan of Rushdie's, The Wizard of Oz and/or film. ... Read more

8. Haroun and the Sea of Stories
by Salman Rushdie
Paperback: 224 Pages (1991-11-01)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$8.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0140157379
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

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The author of The Satanic Verses returns with his most humorous and accessible novel yet. This is the story of Haroun, a 12-year-old boy whose father Rashid is the greatest storyteller in a city so sad that it has forgotten its name. When the gift of gab suddenly deserts Rashid, Haroun sets out on an adventure to rescue his print.Amazon.com Review
Immediately forget any preconceptions you may have aboutSalman Rushdie and the controversy that has swirled around hismillion-dollar head.You should instead know that he is one of the bestcontemporary writers of fables and parables, from any culture.Haroun and the Sea of Stories is adelightful tale about a storyteller who loses his skill and astruggle against mysterious forces attempting to block the seas ofinspiration from which all stories are derived.Here's a representative passage about the sources and power of inspiration:

So Iff the water genie told Haroun about the Ocean of the Streamof Stories, and even though he was full of a sense of hopelessness andfailure the magic of the Ocean began to have an effect on Haroun. Helooked into the water and saw that it was made up of a thousandthousand thousand and one different currents, each one a differentcolour, weaving in and out of one another like a liquid tapestry ofbreathtaking complexity; and Iff explained that these were the Streamsof Story, that each coloured strand represented and contained a singletale. Different parts of the Ocean contained different sorts ofstories, and as all the stories that had ever been told and many thatwere still in the process of being invented could be found here, theOcean of the Streams of Story was in fact the biggest library in theuniverse. And because the stories were held here in fluid form, theyretained the ability to change, to become new versions of themselves,to join up with other stories and so become yet other stories; so thatunlike a library of books, the Ocean of the Streams of Story was muchmore than a storeroom of yarns. It was not dead, but alive.

"And if you are very, very careful, or very, very highly skilled, youcan dip a cup into the Ocean," Iff told Haroun, "like so," and here heproduced a little golden cup from another of his waistcoat pockets,"and you can fill it with water from a single, pure Stream of Story,like so," as he did precisely that.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (128)

5-0 out of 5 stars A fairy tale for all ages
This book is an enchanting and profound fairy story in its own right;but it acquires an especial dimension of poignancy when we remember the context in which it was written.Salman Rushdie was in hiding after the Ayatollah Khomeini had issued the fatwa condemning Rushdie to death for having, in The Satanic Verses, played about with the story of the life of Mohammed; and he had called on faithful Muslims to carry out that sentence. In hiding, Salman was separated from his then eleven year old son Zafar and from his wife, the novelist Marianne Wiggins, who found the crisis in which her husband was involved as the result of his story telling such a strain on their relationship that, some time after The Satanic Verses was published, she announced that they were separating. Perhaps Rushdie, like Rashid (Haroun's father), had been so busy telling stories that he never noticed what it was doing to his family life.

Rushdie had defended himself against the fatwa, in part, with an impassioned plea for freedom of thought and speech and for not only the right to, but the value of, the imaginative faculties in literature.

This fairy story, written for Zafar, makes the same case.In it, the fear is expressed (but triumphantly met in this story) that the isolation of Rashid, "the Shah of Blah",would stifle his voice to a croak and disconnect him from the Ocean of Stories;the love is proclaimed which Salman has for the rich and colourful possibilities of story telling;the battle between him and the fundamentalists is shown in terms of the battle between Light and Darkness;the fantasy is that his son Zafar, alias Haroun, may rescue him and reunite him also with his wife Marianne, alias Soraya.It was surely Zafar's wishful fantasy also.Naturally in a story written for his son, it is Haroun and not Rashid who is the central character of the story. The story will delight Zafar;but it is probably only in later years that he would be able to take in the full meaning of the book.

The Ocean of Stories was on the planet Kahani (Indian for "story"), where a battle was fought out between two realms.A piece of machinery had prevented the planet from rotating, so that the sun never shoneon the realm of physical and spiritual darkness. It was called Chup (Indian for "quiet"), and was governed by Khattam-Shud (Indian for "done for"), whose long-term objective was to poison the Ocean of Stories, which he has already managed to pollute, but he had not yet managed to plug the Well Spring itself.The realm of light, where the sun shone all the time, was called Gup (meaning "gossip" or "nonsense").Its people argued about everything, and its army of Pages was rather chaotic until, in order to defend their freedom, they let themselves be organized into Chapters and Volumes: Rushdie believes that a good fight is best fought in print, and the Commander in Chief of the Guppee army is called Kitab (Indian for "book").

What wins the victory of Gup over Chup is a magic trick by which Haroun can wish for the sun to blaze on the dark side of Kahani, so that all the shadowy forces melt away. The trick has wrecked the machinery which has kept the people of Gup in perpetual light;when they repaired it, they came to a much more sensible arrangement and made the planet rotate in such a way that both sides of it had their share of light and darkness, of chatter and of quiet.Haroun had already foundthat darkness has its own beauty and interest:"'If Guppees and Chupwallas didn't hate each other so,' he thought, 'they might actually find each other pretty interesting.Opposites attract, as they say.'"The symbol of Yin and Yang springs to mind.

The story is full of reflections about freedom (with all its imperfections) and about the nature and importance of fantasy, myth andstory-telling, about ecology and multi-culturalism, even about shadows in the Jungian sense.There is a special delight for those readers who recognize or are told the meaning of Indian words which are given as names to most of the characters, and who know about the role of gestures (mudra) made by often green-painted performers in Indian Kathakali dancing.

5-0 out of 5 stars Hilarious
I loved and loved this book. It is a magic realism genre written for young adults. But the meaning of the book is really for adults. Adults will enjoy this book very much as well. Mr Rushdie is a talented storyteller and I loved his witty language.

4-0 out of 5 stars Tasting Story Telling at it's Source
I work in a book store and whenever anyone comes in looking for anything by Mr Rushdie I always try and place this in their hands as a companion piece so they can really get a true taste for his wide range as a writer. For fans of Rushdie this is the amuse bouche in the rich feast of his already spectacular writing career, for those looking to get into his writing through a more accessible route this is highly indispensable.

Haroun and the Sea of Stories pulls from the very purest of all story telling traditions and while it may fall back on the most simplest and archaic of formulas it would be a very big mistake for anyone to assume that this is you run of the mill "boy on a magic adventure" tale. What rescues Haroun from falling into the usual YA fiction pitfalls are a combination of the following :

1) Absolutely wonderful writing. Anyone who'd read Salman's works before knows this already but he has an absolutely deft ear for crafting dialog and narrative in his stories. Nothing is ever out of place and the writing never drags or becomes overly excessive, even when the scenery within the story is becoming quite lush.

2) An original an inventive cast of characters and scenes. I can't remember the last time I howled with delight at reading a book but this certainly did it for me. A warrior from the lands of eternal night time who shares equal council with his shadow, fish who must speak in rhymes, a hideously ugly princess and a foolish prince. And these are to speak nothing of the wide and wonderful cast of fish, birds, magical creatures and daring heroes that populate this books pages.

3) A genuine feeling of love and joy within the story. I don't care what anyone says - you CAN get a feel for what the author is thinking by reading what they've written and from what I've read on the page I'd be willing to bet an awful lot that Rushdie put every word to the page with a sly grin on his face and a hearty laugh about to erupt from his lips. So few authors approach these sort of fantasy stories with such a genuine love and affection and in Haroun it shows.

It's so easy to dismiss a story like this on the basis of it's summary - however to do so would be an incredible loss. Haroun is not merely a tale for those interested in children's fiction, nor is a tale for those mainly concerned with Indian folk tales. It is a story for anyone who appreciates good stories and even better writing.

4-0 out of 5 stars Haroun and the Sea of Stories
Review from [...]

Title: Haroun and the Sea of Stories
Author: Salman Rushdie
Grade: B+
Ideal Audience: Boys and Girls, 9-15

Summary: Haroun's father, Rashid, is a storyteller. Some people in their city think that telling stories is a waste of time, but Haroun and Rashid know better. Rashid always has a story at hand, and each and every one that he tells captivates his audience. Politicians hire him to speak at their events in the hope that he will win them some supporters.

But one day, the unimaginable happens. At a political rally, Rashid runs out of stories to tell. He opens his mouth, but no words come out. Rashid is disgraced, humiliated, and discouraged. However, he must speak at another political event the next day, and it is imperative that he tell a good story.

Haroun is concerned. As it turns out, his father has been getting all his stories from the Sea of Stories, and is now so discouraged that he is considering canceling his subscription which will result in no more wonderful tales escaping his lips.

During the night, Haroun catches Iff the Water Genie in the act of stopping the flow of stories to Rashid. Blackmailing Iff by stealing one of his tools, Haroun gets Iff to let Haroun speak to the leader of Iff's world about Rashid's subscription.

And so Haroun sets out on an extremely magical journey into lands that no one knew existed. However, he ends up facing more challenges than renewing Rashid's subscription...

My thoughts: Haroun and the Sea of Stories is a fun and imaginative novel. It's great for young tweens who like exciting books, and also a fantastic read-a-loud for children younger than nine (the minimum age that I put at the top of the review). Rushdie actually wrote this book for his eleven year old son.

Salman Rushdie's writing style is a bit impersonal. In a lot of books this bugs me, and at times I did think it took away from this particular novel, but in most cases it was appropriate to the book. Rushdie put in just enough of his own emotion to get the reader clearly on Haroun's side, but stayed away just enough for the reader to feel the events unfold without a separate intruder.

5-0 out of 5 stars excellent
Part Alice in Wonderland and part The Never-ending Story, this fanciful tale had to have inspired Jasper Fforde's Tuesday Next series. I got as much enjoyment out of this as I do when I read Harry Potter.It has the same rich imagination.Still I scoured this book for LOST clues. After all, why would Desmond be reading this?I did find one clue about an idol called Bezaban that the people of Chup worship:

"Bezaban is a gigantic idol, " Rashid told his son. "It is a colossus carved out of black ice, and stands at the heart of Khattam-Shud's fortress-palace, the Citadel of Chup. They say the idol has no tongue, but grins frightfully, showing its teeth, which are the size of houses."

Sound like a certain statue? ... Read more

9. Shalimar the Clown: A Novel
by Salman Rushdie
Paperback: 416 Pages (2006-10-10)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$5.25
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0679783482
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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“Dazzling . . . Modern thriller, Ramayan epic, courtroom drama, slapstick comedy, wartime adventure, political satire, village legend–they’re all blended here magnificently.”
The Washington Post Book World

This is the story of Maximilian Ophuls, America’s counterterrorism chief, one of the makers of the modern world; his Kashmiri Muslim driver and subsequent killer, a mysterious figure who calls himself Shalimar the clown; Max’s illegitimate daughter India; and a woman who links them, whose revelation finally explains them all. It is an epic narrative that moves from California to Kashmir, France, and England, and back to California again. Along the way there are tales of princesses lured from their homes by demons, legends of kings forced to defend their kingdoms against evil. And there is always love, gained and lost, uncommonly beautiful and mortally dangerous.

“A commanding story . . . [a] harrowing climax . . . Revenge is an ancient and powerful engine of narrative.”
–The New York Times Book Review

“Absorbing . . . Everywhere [Rushdie] takes us there is both love and war, in strange and terrifying combinations, painted in swaying, swirling, world-eating prose that annihilates the borders between East and West, love and hate, private lives and the history they make.”

“A vast, richly peopled, beautiful and deeply rageful book that serves as a profound and disturbing artifact of our times.”
San Francisco Chronicle

“Marvelous . . . brilliant . . . a story worthy of [Rushdie’s] genius.”
Detroit Free Press

– The Washington Post Book World–Los Angeles Times Book Review –St. Louis Post-Dispatch–Rocky Mountain News

–Time –Chicago Tribune –The Christian Science Monitor ... Read more

Customer Reviews (74)

3-0 out of 5 stars Just so entertaining story
This largest part of this book is a legend/tale/fable about people's life in Kashmir, before and after partition. Probably it's the best part too, at least to my taste. Rushdie intimately knows his subject, and he loves it too. He loves people of Kashmir of whatever faith, may be he idealizes native customs and peaceful nature of Kashmir indigenous population, but this is forgivable: he writes about his childhood memories (or something he learned from his family elders), so even his too flowery a language is not out of place here, especially considering it's a tale/fable/legend.

This part also is most interesting to a Western reader, because one gets a lot of information about life in those parts of the world. And this part is also the most engaging. Rushdie is successful here as a writer, he shows most interesting characters in this part, for instance colonel Kachhwaha or iron mullah Maulana Bulbul Fakh. I'm not sure whether a person from Kashmir would enjoy this part of the book though, because other parts of «Shalimar the Clown» I diddn't like at all.

Another significant section of this book is describing the life of Max Ophuls, an Jew from Alsatian city of Strasbourgh. When talking about Alsac and Strasbourgh, Rushdie uses the word «charming» some dozen times in a space of half a page. This is surely a joke on his part, even with a bit of sarcasm, probably, but if one counts a number of «beautiful», «handsome», and other superlatives when he talks about Kashmir and his favorite protagonists, one has a second thought about him being sarcastic.

The section about Ophuls' exploits during WWII can only be read as a parody. It's completely ridiculous through and through, what with sadistic Nazi female officer heroically seduced by Max, who endures stoically her biting and clawing in bed; his nickname «Flying Jew» which he earned for escaping on a glamorous brand name aircraft; his involvement in any and every significant event -- as another reviewer Theo Tait said in his «Flame-Broiled Whopper» review of this book in LRB, «fantasy of sophistication and omni-competence that would make Ian Fleming blush.».

Most of the pages where Rushdie describes contemporary life in California are also superficial and simplistic. One gets a feeling that the author was in a hurry to get as much stuff covered as possible, mentioning in passing everything from Rodney King riots to OJ Simpson trial and WTC bombing in 1993. Rushdie's attempts to make this all look relevant to the narrative are not exactly successful unless the reader agrees to be as superficial as the author.

Max Ophüls was a real man, Austrian avantgarde film director. Why Rusdie decided to use his name for one of the main characters in his book is anybody's guess. John Updike in his review of this book in New Yorker says: «Why, oh why... Why has Rushdie attached a gaudy celebrity name to a different sort of celebrity, preventing the Ambassador from coming into sharp, living focus on his own? It is partly, perhaps, characteristic Rushdiean overflow.» In fact, Rushdie offers many riddles like this one to the reader of his book. Even relevance of«clown» as an occupation of Shalimar/Noman Sher Noman is open for discussion and never explained.

Is Rusdie an Orientalist -- in the worst, Edward Saidean sense? Is he a Rousseauist? Did he make his Ambassador Max a Jew because the Jews are ahead of modernity itself (see Yuri Slezkine, «The Jewish Century»)? Because the Jews bring Western corruption to wherever they go? "Ambassador Max Ophuls these days was supporting terror activities while calling himself an ambassador for counterterrorism, had been in charge of liaison with Talib the Afghan's branch of Muj."

Does Rusdie imply that Ophuls -- is the only real triator with no allegiance to anybody other than himself? Is this an unforgivable sin which wages is death? Max Ohuls corrupts India itself in the person of Boonyi. Is Rushdie anti-Semitic? Or was India/Boonyi already corrupted before Max came? Why is Max Ophuls is a Jew? How is it relevant? Or is it -- just so story?

All these questions remain without an answer. Which is not bad. It is actually good, books answering all questions are usually boring and shallow. There are good parts in this book, there are very bad parts: simplistic, cheap, sentimental, superfluous. The worst thing about this book -- it reads mostly like an entertainment, a Holliwood movie script, thus it's difficult to consider it a serious literature which it sometimes pretends to be.

5-0 out of 5 stars Spellbinding
I've read four of Rushdie's books so far, and this one has been my favorite.I read the Satanic Verses as my introduction to Rushdie and felt his writing style complex verging on convoluted.It was still an excellent book, so I kept reading him.Since I've read Midnight's Children, then the Enchantress of Florence, and now Shalimar the Clown.Of the four, I enjoyed Shalimar the most.Less mystical than the other 3 (but still very much blurring the line between reality and mystical/fanatasy), the plot is engrossing.Rushdie does an incredible job of making you feel a part of the landscape.I feel like I in some way understand the incredibly complex worlds of past and present-Kashmir, WWII France, Alsace, and modern LA.Rushdie jumps from present to past with ease, a true master.This is a must-read book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Paper back
Everything was fine except I was surprised to see I ordered a paperback.My mistake.It's an unusual cover with a big typo and I'm glad I have it for my collection. The seller was fine

5-0 out of 5 stars An Incredible Journey

What an incredible visit to Kashmir, meeting the multiple, unforgetable protagonists and learning their culture andhistory via the brilliant narration of Salmon Rushdie!

Why did I wait 3 years after buying SHALIMAR THE CLOWN to plunge in?No matter.

There are Mr. Rushdie's many other volumes waiting for me to savor.

Carole RobackSanta Monica, CASeptember 1, 2009

5-0 out of 5 stars Historical fiction at its best
I was so impressed by this book that it's taken me awhile to work out what to say.... primarily, what fascinated me was the grace and effortlessness with which it moves from one setting to another: a large chunk is set in Kashmir, covering much of the last half of the 20th century; another large chunk in Europe (primarily France) during the Second World War; the last chunk in Los Angeles in the 1990s. Each of these settings and historical periods is richly detailed; a lesser author would have taken an entire book (at least!) to evoke just one of them. Rushdie, however, discusses the history of Alsace and the history of the India-Pakistan conflict with equal facility, making for a truly rewarding read. And the prose is beautiful.

Of course, this isn't just a book about setting: we follow the lives of four main characters, as well as a host of minor characters who add quite a bit of flavor to the stories. Unlike some other reviewers, I think Rushdie's female characters are depicted quite well; neither of the female main characters is Everywoman, but as a woman I found them realistic and compelling even when I couldn't relate to their decisions.

This is one of those books that begins near the end, then works its way backward in time before coming back around; I often find this irritating since I already know what's going to happen, but in Shalimar the Clown it works extremely well: even knowing (part of) the end, I was dying to know what happened in the middle.

Finally, as far as the politics of the whole thing... I was surprised when I came to this site after finishing the book and saw how many people view it as a book about terrorism. Hardly. Yes, the history of Kashmir in the last half-century includes terrorists, and so they appear; yes, the book comments on the causes of terrorism. But there is a lot more to it than that; with slight alterations, the book could have been written with only passing references to terrorism and kept the story largely the same, which should tell you it's not the big focus. If it might bother you, you should know that the Indian government is portrayed in an unfavorable light, while Rushdie's views on the US government come across as somewhat ambivalent. And that the atrocity count in some places is high, although this doesn't make the book depressing all the way through--some of my favorite scenes were the comic ones depicting pre-war village life in Kashmir.

Some have read this entire book as political commentary (with particular characters representing "east" and "west", "Hindu" and "Muslim", etc.), and it's certainly open to that interpretation... for me it was just a great story, and I thoroughly enjoyed it as such. Happy reading! ... Read more

10. Salman Rushdie: The Essential Guide (Midnight's Children / Shame / The Satanic Verses)
Paperback: 204 Pages (2003-02-01)
list price: US$13.00 -- used & new: US$5.64
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0099437643
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Focusing on: Midnight’s Children, Shame, The Satanic Verses ... Read more

11. Fury: A Novel (Modern Library)
by Salman Rushdie
Paperback: 272 Pages (2002-08-06)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$3.13
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0679783504
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
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Malik Solanka, historian of ideas and world-famous dollmaker, steps out of his life one day, abandons his family in London without a word of explanation, and flees for New York. There's a fury within him, and he fears he has become dangerous to those he loves. He arrives in New York at a time of unprecedented plenty, in the highest hour of America's wealth and power, seeking to "erase" himself. But fury is all around him.

Fury is a work of explosive energy, at once a pitiless and pitch-black comedy, a profoundly disturbing inquiry into the darkest side of human nature, and a love story of mesmerizing force. It is also an astonishing portrait of New York. Not since the Bombay of Midnight's Children have a time and place been so intensely and accurately captured in a novel.Amazon.com Review
Fury is a gloss on fin-de-siècle angst from the master of the quintuple entendre. Salman Rushdie hauls his hero, Malik Solanka, from Bombay to London to New York, and finally to a fictional Third World country, all in order to show off a preternatural ability to riff on anything from Bollywood musicals to revolutionary politics. Professor Solanka is propelled on this path by his strange love of dolls. He plays with them as a child; as an adult he quits his post at Cambridge in order to produce a TV show wherein an animated doll, Little Brain, meets the great thinkers of history. Little Brain becomes a smash hit, and perhaps inevitably, Solanka finds himself in America. (It's not only the show-biz version of manifest destiny that brings him to the New World: one night in London he finds himself standing over the sleeping figures of his beloved wife and child, frighteningly close to stabbing them. This intellectual puppeteer is, of course, fleeing himself.)

Now, in New York, he is filled with wrath. Solanka is far from being an Everyman, but his fury is a kind of Everyfury. It's road rage writ large--the natural reaction to an excess of mental traffic. There are several books running simultaneously here: a mystery, a family romance, a bitingly satirical portrait of millennial Manhattan, and a sci-fi revolutionary fantasy. A single fragment gives a sense of Rushdie's reflexive multiplicity: when Solanka finally faces his memories of childhood, he recalls "his damn Yoknapatawpha, his accursed Malgudi." Here's a writer who, leading us into the tender places of his protagonist's soul, stops long enough to reference not just Faulkner but Narayan as well. If it sounds like a bit of a mess, it is. If it sounds frighteningly intelligent, it's that too.--Claire Dederer ... Read more

Customer Reviews (73)

3-0 out of 5 stars Oy! So Where's the Fury?
College professors may have much to be furious about, but it doesn't seem that the protagonist of this novel does.The title had me thinking that perhaps Salman Rushdie was getting into the horror genre--which would be great since there hasn't been a literary horror writer since Poe and some of the Latin American writers whom he influenced.

From the perspective of a New Yorker, my main discomfort with the book is that Mr. Rushdie doesn't get New York City quite right; he doesn't seem to have absorbed its particular cultural, social, and ethnic nuances, be they Greek Diner waiters or "Euro-trash" as some have called a particular segment of the population.The novel might well have been set in Toronto.

As for the protagonist, his 55-year-old professorial self, now freed from the halls of academe thanks to a generous cash award, allows him to 'tour' the city as a kitchen anthropologist.I envy his freedom, but not his consciousness. He seems to still possess the academic's cortex of making binary judgments of most of what he encounters: pretention-bad, perspicuity-good, etc.However, this view of life reminds me of an old Twilight Zone episode that depicted an office worker looking out his high-rise window and cursing all the hoi-poloi as they passed by his building. At the end, we see that the man is standing on a chair, because he is too short to look out the window by himself.The point seems to get a bit belaboured as the plot develops, and his meeting a post-doctoral English Ph.D. whose thesis argued that Othello was a traditional Muslim man, enraged by the insult and embarrassment of an unreliable wife, just takes us more into the mire of angst than anything else. There are lots of other Rushdie novels to read. I would put this one at the bottom of the list.

4-0 out of 5 stars metaphors over believabilty
In brief this book is beautifully written. Just read almost any passage aloud to hear what I mean. Moreover the subject of unconscious fury and how it can affect the conscious life is truly terrifying. However it all kind of gets away from Rushdie in the last quarter. While the climax and resolution works metaphorically it does not work realistically. You will see what Rushdie means but it comes off like the climax of a bad sitcom. It is too bad. I really wanted to see how a modern man can overcome his inner Furies. Rushdies answer will not satisfy. Still is not the question more important. If you think it is you could do much worse than this book by a modern master.

2-0 out of 5 stars Before this edition
I read this book in 2002 before the united states printing to draw a personal conclusion on the subject of the writing of salman rushdie. I found it to be on par with the writing of anais nin. I don't think it's the author's fault for printing it. This book is a waste of time on par with a trip to an adult bookstore. I suppose anyone who is a registered sex offender would like this book.

4-0 out of 5 stars "...Like a Doll Scorned"
I only just read FURY for the first time, and my tardiness finds Salman Rushdie's book now embedded in a post 9/11 English speaking world that is at "war" against terrorism, with the author being lately knighted, provoking a renewed fatwa on his life.I can't help thinking that reading FURY at this time led me to a different perspective from those reading it upon its publication in 2001.

Many others have pointed out that FURY is not Salman Rushdie's finest work, but it is still a fabulous read.I found it to be intelligent and moving, if at times unnecessarily difficult.This group of Rushdie's characters seems completely modern yet with a timeless feel.Rushdie's plot once again revolves around alter-realities; sometimes cultural, but mostly psychological, and I found the doll trope particularly attractive.

If you've read Rushdie I highly recommend FURY, if not, begin with MIDNIGHT"S CHILDREN or the incomparable SATANIC VERSES.

3-0 out of 5 stars unusual and, all in all, disappointing Rushdie (with some fine moments)
Professor Malik Solanka, the central character in "Fury" lives alone in an apartment close to Central Park in New York City. His main occupation are walks around the city and being not involved. In fact, it seems that Professor Solanka would do a lot to stay uninvolved, but it also seems that he is extremely unsettled (later we can even see that he is much more than that; he is enraged). And this is the starting point of "Fury", a novel surprisingly different from others written by Salman Rushdie.

I actually liked this novel more in its first half, when it concentrated on Professor Solanka's thoughts about... Well, about everything in the society, shortly speaking. Solanka is, basically, irritated by everything and everyone he sees during his walks in the city, or hears on the radio. He is especially fond of overhearing people's phone conversations. He is so submerged in his critical thoughts (which are pretty interesting and originally formulated, albeit, most of the time, not completely original, that he realizes he has some holes in his memory, especially some nights disappear mysteriously and he has no idea what happens to him sometimes. He becomes very worried when the news of the murders of three socialites begin to spread...

Professor Solanka had moved to New York City to escape from his life. Born In Bombay, he attended college and continued his scientific career in England, where he set up a home in Cambridge. Divorced, he remarried and had a son, who is now four, with his second wife. In addition, he made a lot of money inventing a doll, philosophy-quoting Little Brain, which became an instant hit and started to live its own life in the media. This unexpected financial success overwhelmed Solanka and threw his life out of balance. Although obsessed with dolls from the early childhood, he started to hate Little Brain and everything connected with her, including his own life.

In New York, Professor Solanka immerses himself in the modern life (excellent comments on the life at the break of the millennia, the New York is captured and satirized very well). He is acquainted with an array of interesting characters (Jack, the black professional with aspiration to the highest society; Mila Milo, the daughter of a Yugoslavian writer, the head of a street gang, obsessed with the father figure; and the head-turner Neela Mahendra from the fictional country of Liliput-Blefuscu).

The story flows quite well, full of black humor and sharp observations, and the novel is enjoyable until it gets too absurd. The first signs are visible already when Prefessor Solanka, 55-year old, balding, unremarkable, antisocial man with many annoying habits, is pursued and found irresistible by beautiful, young women. Hmmm...
I still liked the story when Solanka's life was described in retrospective, his childhood secrets explaining many of his habits or phobias. It all reminded me, until then, of Woody Allen's movies (very similar atmosphere and humor).

But when the story starts to drift more and more towards Liliput-Blefuscu and its problems, culminating with Solanka's trip there, it becomes obvious that the ending is not very well structured and rather rushed. This was, for me, the most disappointing part of the novel, I expect a lot from Rushdie and this is just not his class. The allusion to the Furies is quite neat, but underdeveloped and left alone at the end. Hopefully it is just one experiment like this... ... Read more

12. The Ground Beneath Her Feet: A Novel
by Salman Rushdie
Paperback: 592 Pages (2000-03-16)
list price: US$16.00 -- used & new: US$8.90
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0312254997
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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In this remaking of the myth of Orpheus, Rushdie tells the story of Vina Apsara, a pop star, and Ormus Cama, an extraordinary songwriter and musician, who captivate and change the world through their music and their romance. Beginning in Bombay in the fifties, moving to London in the sixties, and New York for the last quarter century, the novel pulsates with a half-century of music and celebrates the power rock 'n' roll.
Amazon.com Review
The ground shifts repeatedly beneath the reader's feet during the course ofSalman Rushdie's sixth novel,a riff on the Orpheus and Eurydice myth setin the high-octane world of rock & roll.Readers get their first cluesearly on that the universe Rushdie is creating here is not quite the one weknow: Jesse Aron Parker, for example, wrote "Heartbreak Hotel"; Carly Simonand Guinevere Garfunkel sang "Bridge over Troubled Water"; and ShirleyJones and Gordon McRae starred in "South Pacific." And as the novelprogresses, Rushdie adds unmistakable elements of science fiction to hisalready patented magical realism, with occasionally uneven results.

Rushdie's cunning musician is Ormus Cana, the Bombay-born founder of themost popular group in the world. Ormus's Eurydice (and lead singer) is VinaApsara, the daughter of a Greek American woman and an Indian father whoabandoned the family. What these two share, besides amazing musicaltalent, is a decidedly twisted family life: Ormus's twin brother died atbirth and communicates to him from "the other side"; his older brothers,also twins, are, respectively, brain-damaged and a serial killer. Vina, onthe other hand, grew up in rural West Virginia where she returned home oneday to find her stepfather and sisters shot to death and her mother hangingfrom a rafter in the barn. No wonder these two believe they were made foreach other.

Narrated by Rai Merchant, a childhood friend of both Vina and Ormus, TheGround Beneath Her Feet begins with a terrible earthquake in 1989 thatswallows Vina whole, then moves back in time to chronicle the tangledhistories of all the main characters and a host of minor ones as well.Rushdie's canvas is huge, stretching from India to London to New York andbeyond--and there's plenty of room for him to punctuate this epic tale withpointed commentary on his own situation: Muslim-born Rai, for example,remarks that "my parents gave me the gift of irreligion, of growing upwithout bothering to ask people what gods they held dear.... You may arguethat the gift was a poisoned chalice, but even if so, that's a cup fromwhich I'd happily drink again." Despite earthquakes, heartbreaks, and a ripin the time-space continuum, The Ground Beneath Her Feet may be themost optimistic, accessible novel Rushdie has yet written. --AlixWilber ... Read more

Customer Reviews (115)

4-0 out of 5 stars The Ground Beneath Her Feet
The book itself is brilliant, Salman Rushdie is a master! However, I was really disappointed at Amazon's delivery. Two pages inside the book were torn apart so that those two half cannot be read at all and the rest of these two pages were completely covered with black marker pen! This was my first and my last order from Amazon. I did not even place a complaint since I was so disappointed that I do not even want to bother myself with that anymore. But again, the book itself is a masterpiece!

5-0 out of 5 stars Set up no stone to his memory...
Salman Rushdie first attracted my notice many years ago, and since that time I have purchased most all of his novels, save for 'Grimus'; an inexpensive used hardcover of which eludes me to this day. Over the past few years I have worked my way through all but 'Midnight's Children' that are in my possession.

Having once before tried to start 'The Ground Beneath Her Feet', the first few pages didn't grab me initially. But this time I plowed ahead, undaunted, and completed the book a couple of weeks ago.

Re-working the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice into a sprawling epic of the rise to fame and undying love of Ormus Cama and Vina Apsara, the author delivers a masterwork of a tale.Ormus and Vina become the darlings of the rock and roll world, despite inauspicious beginnings, and fall madly in love with one another. Ormus, several years older than Vina when they meet, vows to wait for her to be of an age more acceptable for their life-long love affair to begin. However, in a turn about of typical stories, Ormus is the one who remains all but chaste in his courtship of Vina.

Chronicling their story is Rai, a childhood friend of Ormus, and later the sometimes lover of Vina. Both men fall completely under her spell...and both spend their lives failing to tame the passions inside of her completely. And when Vina and Ormus make their music together, legions of fans fall under their spell as well.

Rushdie's style here is, to me, reminiscent of John Irving, another of my favorite authors. Rushdie also taps into several of Irving's recurring themes; such as death under bizarre circumstances, absentee parents, and love that leads to tragic consequences.

Other reviewers have panned this novel as being poorly written, self-indulgent, and simply not the author's best work. And while I would not rate this as my favorite of his novels, it certainly is near the top of 'my' list of favorites. Rushdie's pukish, tongue-in-cheek, eccentric word-play is in fine form here, like his other novels.

Though I would hesitate to recommend this novel as a starting point for getting to know the works of Salman Rushdie, I do recommend an eventual foray into this book as well.

2-0 out of 5 stars Like "Midnight's Children" ... minus the good parts
While not unreadable, Rushdie seems off his game in this one. Compared to the genius of "Midnight's Children," "The Satanic Verses," and "The Moor's Last Sigh," the novel reads like a B-side. What was most off-putting was his reliance on cliches and tired idioms. Cliches were used as a crutch, not as something that's subverted.

3-0 out of 5 stars Dizzyingly beautiful at times, but a difficult read.
A reimagining of the Orpheus and Eurydice myth set in the modern world of rock & roll. There are many cultural references, but often twisted in interesting ways. Famous people appear, but in different roles than readers expect. I found this the most fun aspect of the book--wondering how many of the jokes I actually got.

Ormus Cama is a brilliant musician born in Bombay, India. The love of his life is Vina Apsara, a half-Indian woman who moves to Bombay when she is a young adolescent. The two lovers share enormous musical talent and bizarre families. Their love affair is a strange one, as they spend most of their lives pining for each other and very little time actually together.

The story is narrated by Rai, a childhood friend of Ormus and Vina (later Vina's secret lover).

A challenging read due to the vast number of literary and cultural references/allusions, as well as Rushdie's extensive vocabulary. Profound insights about religion, life, and love make this one worth the effort.

2-0 out of 5 stars Dazzling language, lame story
The Ground Beneath Her Feet was written during a fairly miserable time for fiction (I can think of few really great novels from the mid 90s). Rushdie, having covered the main territories of his life - India, Pakistan, Immigration in three tour de force novels, and followed it up with the mixed Moors Last Sigh, was clearly in search of a topic. What he produced is a bunging in of a lot of high/low cultural references which was all the rage at the time, a dubious plot based on the Orpheus myth, and a lot - a lot of selfindulgent passages on a questionable filigree of cultural canvas that piece together in a colourful riot of a novel, but without much grist to the mill. The characters are a sort of modern Gods Behaving Badly - a similar device used in Melanie Philip's eponymous recent novel of same name. Neither book really swings it for me I'm afraid. ... Read more

13. The Moor's Last Sigh
by Salman Rushdie
Paperback: 448 Pages (1997-01-14)
list price: US$16.00 -- used & new: US$5.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0679744665
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Time Magazine's Best Book of the Year

Booker Prize-winning author Salman Rushdie combines a ferociously witty family saga with a surreally imagined and sometimes blasphemous chronicle of modern India and flavors the mixture with peppery soliloquies on art, ethnicity, religious fanaticism, and the terrifying power of love. Moraes "Moor" Zogoiby, the last surviving scion of a dynasty of Cochinese spice merchants and crime lords, is also a compulsive storyteller and an exile. As he travels a route that takes him from India to Spain, he leaves behind a tale of mad passions and volcanic family hatreds, of titanic matriarchs and their mesmerized offspring, of premature deaths and curses that strike beyond the grave.

"Fierce, phantasmagorical...a huge, sprawling, exuberant novel."--New York TimesAmazon.com Review
In The Moor's Last Sigh Salman Rushdie revisits some of thesame ground he covered in his greatest novel, Midnight's Children. This bookis narrated by Moraes Zogoiby, aka Moor, who speaks to us from a gravestonein Spain. Like Moor, Rushdie knows about a life spent in banishment fromnormal society--Rushdie because of the death sentence that followed The Satanic Verses, Moor becausehe ages at twice the rate of normal humans. Yet Moor's story of travail isbigger than Rushdie's; it encompasses a grand struggle between good and evilwhile Moor himself stands as allegory for Rushdie's home country of India.Filled with wordplay and ripe with humor, it is an epic work, and Rushdie hasthe tools to pull it off. He earned a 1995 Whitbread Prize for his efforts. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (82)

2-0 out of 5 stars Unfinishable even for someone who thought he was a Rushdie fan
In my years of reviewing here, I've been loath to review a book I didn't read all the way through. But sometimes I encounter a book that I don't merely feel isn't worth my time, but which is so awful I just can't help but warn others. Salman Rushdie's THE MOOR'S LAST SIGH is such a book.

I was on a roll with Rushdie, enjoying his debut MIDNIGHT'S CHILDREN, long holding THE SATANIC VERSES as one of my favourite novels, and reading his nonfiction of the 1980s with pleasure. With THE MOOR's LAST SIGH, the mojo is gone. That's a pity, as I was really looking forward to a chronicle of the fusion of cultures in South India, where I will soon be traveling. Rushdie certainly believes that the spicy blend of Christians, Jews, Hindus, Marxists, Portuguese, and Englishmen in places like Kochin is something special. At first, one is enthralled by this remarkable setting. However, that thrill quickly fades. Rushdie takes forever to introduce the life of the narrator and protagonist Moraes "Moor" Zogoiby, choosing to dedicate the 150 pages to various events in the life of his great-grandparents, grandparents, or parents. While these are sometimes interesting, Rushdie doesn't give them any urgency and link them to a vaster plot, so this reader started to wonder where all this was going.

And writing this in the first person was a terrible mistake, because Moor is one of the most annoying narrators I've ever encountered. It's hard to get into the plot when it's being reported by the sort of smart aleck that, at parties, people do all they can to stand on the other side of the room from. And how many times does Moor have to make reference to the fragrance of spices? We get it, Kochin is a spice city, enough already. In the end, I bailed at about the point that the narrator is born.

After THE MOOR'S LAST SIGH, I'm not unsure whether I want to continue with Rushdie's output, or whether I should just treasure the works of the 1980s.

5-0 out of 5 stars Not Midnight's Children, not Satanic Verses,... this is Rushdie's best.
Why? Well Salman Rushdie seems to write this way... he'll write beautiful chapters that could stand on their own, pluck nice turn of phrases, construct a perfect stream of sentence, and somehow fuse them into a coherent novel. In some of his novels, this technique doesn't meld into a coherent whole. And sometimes this premium on `beautiful writing' drags down the progress of the story.

But not in this fantastic novel. It is constructed as an epic from the very start with a unifying whole. The opening chapter (also explaining the title) firmly establishes the tone and theme, then the epic proceeds along the troubles of one family and Moor himself.

There are no over-the-top magical reality twists as well that some readers might find tough to swallow (or is just use as a plot device).

There are sad yearnings (really sad), there are laugh-out-loud turns, and amazement, rhythm, and jewels in every pages. Salman Rushdie is a big, big, stylistic, melodic writer, of no equal (not Pynchon, not Garcia-Marquez).

Buy this book with the beautiful Asian lady painting in the cover (not the other vintage classics version). It is relevant to the novel.

4-0 out of 5 stars Big Fan of Rushdie
I love Rushdie, though have to admit that some of his stuff has been hard to read. This book, though, is not. A mix of fantasy and Indian life. Very funny. Rushdie is incredible. Not as enjoyable, for me, as Midnight's Children.

2-0 out of 5 stars Still not a fan.
Reading it on the recommendation of a fan of Rushdie's calling whom a voracious reader would be a vast understatement--a conservative estimate would be to say that the books in her house outweigh all her other possessions by a few factors (perhaps, betraying my experience in reporting research here?). This is the second Rushdie I am reading after Midnight's Children which I read as part of a course almost a decade back curious to see if my opinion would be different reading it outside a classroom so many years after forming my first impression. I am not a big fan of that novel. My main problem with it is the high density of incidents packed into every square inch of every page of the book exacerbated by its, what's got to be, magic-realistic genre. My memories of reading books of the genre can be summarized as ultimately unsuccessful attempts at maintaining my willing suspension of disbelief. The coincidences mount and as the novel progresses the twists seem more and more arbitrary, whimsical, and ultimately nonsensical. In Rushdie's case, as is being confirmed with this novel, I give-in to disbelief somewhat earlier than say a Marquez.

I feel Rushdie would be more successful as a short story writer--I think the next time I read something by him, and if the trend is maintained that should happen sometime in 2017, it'll be one of his short story collections. In fact, even with Moor's Last Sigh I was actually enjoying Rushdie's virtuosity, his humor, his way with words, his depiction of `Hinglish' and the intricate sentences for about the first 30 pages before I experienced my first cringe. His description of the division of a house between the families of two brothers listing out in detail the specific articles that went to each side concluded with a phrase to the effect that the division was so ruthless that even the lizards of the house were divided. For me that phrase did not have its obviously intended effect of being funny. Instead, it felt like a relic from the first draft which should have been removed by the author's own better judgment. It's not my intention to write a review of the novel here. I think people who liked Midnight's Children will probably like this one too and going by my own reaction the converse should also be true. Despite strong hopes I have not become a fan of Rushdie's.

4-0 out of 5 stars Lovely and Complex
THE MOOR'S LAST SIGH is the last confession of Moraes "Moor" Zogoiby, the last of a long line of sinners and saints. The title refers to both Moor's final confession and to a painting of the same name, created by Moor's mother, Aurora. Moor tells of the feuds of grandparents and great-grandparents, of the "pepper love" of his parents and the eventual breakdown of their marriage, and of his own struggles with love and with his darker, more violent side.

This is a novel of paradise and of hell. Moor's childhood home is associated with paradise, as is his mother, Aurora, an artist full of fantastical visions. Moor's father and his business are associated with hell. Abraham Zogoiby is, on the surface, a respectable businessman, but his real fortune comes from drugs and sex trafficking. In THE MOOR'S LAST SIGH, paradise is always an illusion: The Zogoiby home proves to be full of serpents and even Aurora's artistic vision becomes dark and morbid as she grows older. Hell is always real, and its inhabitants are invisible, powerless. Abraham's empire is a place where "an invisible reality moved phantomwise beneath a visible fiction.*"

Rushdie's writing style is difficult to pinpoint. During the first few chapters, dealing with Moor's great-grandparents and grandparents, I was reminded of the prose of Gabriel Garcia Marquez: lyrical, complex, and a bit exotic. I later changed my mind, finding The Moor's Last Sigh to be more epic than the work of Marquez. It seems a bit like an agnostic Bible (filled with feuding siblings, serpentine characters, family blessings, family curses, paradise, and condemnation) crossed with a Greek tragedy (characters larger than life, full of passion, and headed towards an unstoppable doom). While the span of the novel extends from India's colonial days to the nineteen-nineties and historical events, movements, and ideologies are woven into the story, The Moor's Last Sigh has a timeless feel to it.

THE MOOR'S LAST SIGH is beautiful, readable, and frequently funny. Its only flaw is the plot is, at times, too intricate, too tangled, making it easy for readers to confuse/forget the earlier events of the novel.
... Read more

14. Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children: A Reader's Guide (Continuum Contemporaries)
by Norbert Schurer
Paperback: 104 Pages (2004-09-07)
list price: US$12.95 -- used & new: US$5.93
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 082641575X
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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This book provides an accessible and informative introduction to "Midnight's Children."It includes a short biography of the author, an analysis of the novel drawing out the most important themes and ideas, a summary of how the novel was received ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

4-0 out of 5 stars Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children: A Reader's Guide
Helpful in many ways. The book is difficult in part because of the many references and allusions that are not familiar to everyone. Being able to get past name-changes, historical references, religious words and relationships, and other items covered in "A Reader's Guide" lessened the temptation to skip them and thereby miss the thicker nap of the novel.

5-0 out of 5 stars Destiny vs Desire
Readers who like to see main characters overcome problems in their lives and the lives of their loved ones will enjoy this book.Readers who enjoy social commentary and offbeat characters will enjoy it more.Readers who revel in allegory combined with beautiful language, frequent dream-like sequences,, and a plot both outlandish and believable will be ecstatic.Rushdie, a transplanted Indian, views the independence and eventual partition of India through the eyes one of thechildren born at midnight when India becomes independent.

These children are blessed--perhaps cursed is a better word--with unusual understanding and gifts.His interpretation of Indian development from that point on is so complex that he borrows literary techniques from Lawrence Sterne, Gunter Grass and Gabriel Garcia Marquez toexpress himself.In his view these childrenf are important because"it is the privilege and the curse of midnight's children to be both masters and victims of their times...." ... Read more

15. Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children: Adapted for the Theatre by Salman Rushdie, Simon Reade and Tim Supple (Modern Library Paperbacks)
by Salman Rushdie
Paperback: 144 Pages (2003-02-18)
list price: US$13.95 -- used & new: US$4.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0812969030
Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars
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The original stage adaptation of Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children, winner of the 1993 Booker of Bookers, the best book to win the Booker Prize in its first twenty-five years.

In the moments of upheaval that surround the stroke of midnight on August 14--15, 1947, the day India proclaimed its independence from Great Britain, 1,001 children are born--each of whom is gifted with supernatural powers. Midnight’s Children focuses on the fates of two of them--the illegitimate son of a poor Hindu woman and the male heir of a wealthy Muslim family--who become inextricably linked when a midwife switches the boys at birth.

An allegory of modern India, Midnight’s Children is a family saga set against the volatile events of the thirty years following the country’s independence--the partitioning of India and Pakistan, the rule of Indira Gandhi, the onset of violence and war, and the imposition of martial law. It is a magical and haunting tale, of fragmentation and of the struggle for identity and belonging that links personal life with national history.

In collaboration with Simon Reade, Tim Supple and the Royal Shakespeare Society, Salman Rushdie has adapted his masterpiece for the stage. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

1-0 out of 5 stars Careful! This is not the novel - it's an adaptation for theatre
Heads up - although it isn't clearly stated here, this is not the novel "Midnight's Children." It's an "adaptation for the theatre by Salman Rushdie, Simon Reade and Tim Supple." I thought I was purchasing the novel. Amazon needs to make this clear!

3-0 out of 5 stars Good but...strangely empty - even if...
Just finished reading this yesterday; liked a lot about it - his style, his way of describing things, his nose and knees...knees and nose, did fingers...? did eyes...? - but one strange thing: this book seemed to have the uncanny ability to put me to sleep, no matter what the time of day.Also, when finished, book was tossed on bed and not given another second's thought.Wondered: does that mean something?About this book?About the nature of fiction?I mean, what is the point of it all?Is it just mental distraction, a way to fill the head, to substitute the words of another for thoughts of our own, or is there something more to it than that?And then, if there is something to this writing malarkey, why not produce what is real, what actually happened?Isn't fact stranger, and stronger than fiction?How am I to be inspired by this?What can I learn?(And please don't tell me Indian history!)Does anybody know what I'm saying? ... Read more

16. Step Across This Line: Collected Nonfiction 1992-2002 (Modern Library Paperbacks)
by Salman Rushdie
Paperback: 416 Pages (2003-09-30)
list price: US$15.95 -- used & new: US$7.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0679783490
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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For all their permeability, the borders snaking across the world have never been of greater importance. This is the dance of history in our age: slow, slow, quick, quick, slow, back and forth and from side to side, we step across these fixed and shifting lines. —from Part IV

With astonishing range and depth, the essays, speeches, and opinion pieces assembled in this book chronicle a ten-year intellectual odyssey by one of the most important, creative, and respected minds of our time. Step Across This Line concentrates in one volume Salman Rushdie’s fierce intelligence, uncanny social commentary, and irrepressible wit—about soccer, The Wizard of Oz, and writing, about fighting the Iranian fatwa and turning with the millennium, and about September 11, 2001. Ending with the eponymous, never-before-published speeches, this collection is, in Rushdie’s words, a “wake-up call” about the way we live, and think, now. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (19)

4-0 out of 5 stars Step across this frontier
Author's collected nonfiction, 1992-2002.
Noted excerpts:pg 359 contrasts "pre-literate" mythology of American West vs. literate constructors of these so-called "legends".In retrospect we were propagandized in the 50's and 60's with this historical nonsense!
First essay, Out of Kansas, is an homage and analysis of the Wizard of Oz which the author praises for its entertaining and metaphorical value.The end of the book covers recent views on artistic license;9/11 terrorists attacks and Islam's culpability and myopia.Mr. Rushdie is a very thoughtful author, though his application of the notion of "frontier" to our existing social, political and artistic scenes is at times vague and overused; not a serious problem as overall the book is recommended.

4-0 out of 5 stars A Taste of Rushdie
Caveat #1 - I did not actually read this book, I listened to it. And, unfortunately, despite the publisher's claim that the audiobook was unabridged, it was very much abridged. The audiobook does not contain all the essays from section one, it does not contain section two (about fifty pages of items relating to the Satanic Verses controversy), and it does not contain section three (about eighty pages of columns from December 1998 to March 2002). So, my impressions of the book are rather severely limited to the seven hours or so that I heard.

Caveat #2 - I've never read any of Rushdie's fiction. Although he has always struck me as thoughtful person, I'm not a fan of magical realism, and I think I've probably unfairly lumped all his work into that particular bucket. If nothing else, the essays in this collection made made me want to at least try one of his novels.

The book (and audiobook) opens with "Out of Kansas," a dazzling, trivia-laden thirty page unpacking of "The Wizard of Oz" and how the film influenced his own creative life. It's a great opener, as it demonstrates Rushdie's general erudition, pop culture savvy, eye for detail, and the ability to link all of these seamlessly to his own work and life. Another fine film-related essay, "Adapting Midnight's Children," details several years of creative frustration spent in trying to bring the his Booker Prize-winning novel to the big, and then, small, screen. (Note: according to various rumors floating around the internet in April 2009, serious interest in filming the book seems to have picked up again.) There's a decent, if somewhat rambling, 15-page item about the nature of being a sports fan, with particular focus on Tottenham. Other memorable pieces include a decent brief thought piece on India's 50th anniversary and some demythologizing musings on Gandhi. Probably the standout essay is "A Dream of Glorious Return," which recounts his 2000 trip to India with his son, his first trip since the mid-1980s. Part travelogue and part personal history, it's a compelling series of diary entries. The book ends with the titular 35 page essay, which was originally delivered as a lecture at Yale on human values and totally failed to connect with me.

On the whole, the collection seems like the usual mixed potpourri of stuff, some great, some good, a lot of blah. I did like it enough to check out an actual print copy from the library and read a few of the parts that didn't make it onto the audiobook. The prose and ideas demonstrated are strong enough to make me at least dip into any essay of his I happen to stumble upon in the future, and as noted earlier, I will at least try one of his novels.

5-0 out of 5 stars Non-fiction
A set of great essays by Rushdie on various topics that happened over different periods. A great read.

5-0 out of 5 stars A book to take time over
This is a book to take time over. The many, many essays each deserve attention: so it is foolish to swish through them. Rushdie gives you so much to think about in each essay, that you need to read it, put the book down and then think a bit. SO it's best read one essay at a time, one day at a time.

That's how they were published initially, so that makes sense for the reader too. Unlike a compilation of short stories, Rushdie talks here directly to the reader about political and social issues that are deeply relevant to the 21st century (with the exception of the essay on Oz, which makes a welcome side track). So you must also approach the book with a political / social mind ~ you need to be prepared to take time to work through his arguments in your head.

If you do, you will be richly rewarded, whether you agree with him or not. And mostly, you will find if you do not, that your tenets have been strongly challenged.

4-0 out of 5 stars Good if you want to learn about India, but read some of his other books first
I've never read Salman Rushdie before, so I was at a bit of a disadvantage
when listening to STEP ACROSS THIS LINE . . . this is a collection
of nonfiction essays on a variety of subjects, including some of
his past books (that I knew only by name), his struggle to film
MIDNIGHT'SCHILDREN, visiting India after being away for
nearly a decade, and my personal favorite, his fascination
with the film THE WIZARD OF OZ.

This latter title was Rushdie's self-acknowledged first literary
influence . . . he shared such tidbits as the following:
* Shirley Temple was seriously considered for the part that Judy
Garland got.

* Buddy Ebsen and Ray Bolger switched roles because Bolger
didn't want to play the Tin Man. Ebsen then had to leave
filming because his costume gave him lead poisoning.

* Frank Morgan played a total of five different roles.

I also liked his account of being photographed by Richard Avedon
and his ultimate goal:
* You hope not to scare people who come across the picture
by chance.

And in talking about his many travels, he noted:
* The most precious book I possess is my passport. . . . and my
first one allowed me to where nobody would want to go.

Other parts of the book were more serious . . . one particular
thought-provoking essay, "Not About Islam?" called the September
11 attack a manifestation of a sickness that is widespread in
the Muslim . . . but also deplored America's response.

I'd recommend STEP ACROSS THIS LINE to anybody wanting
to know more about India . . . however, if you are going to read
it, my suggestion would be to get hold of some of Rushdie's
other books first.
... Read more

17. Mirrorwork: 50 Years of Indian Writing 1947-1997
 Paperback: 560 Pages (1997-08-15)
list price: US$19.99 -- used & new: US$5.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0805057102
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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This unique anthology presents thirty-two selections by Indian authors writing in English over the past half-century. Selected by Salman Rushdie and Elizabeth West, these novel excerpts, stories, and memoirs illuminate wonderful writing by authors often overlooked in the West. Chronologically arranged to reveal the development ofIndian literature in English, this volume includes works by Jawaharlal Nehru, Nayantara Sahgal, Saadat Hasan Manto, G.V. Desani, Nirad C. Chaudhuri, Kamala Markandaya, Mulk Raj Anand, R.K. Narayan, Ved Mehta, Anita Desai, Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, Satyajit Ray, Salman Rushdie, Padma Perera, Upamanyu Chatterjee, Rohinton Mistry, Bapsi Sidhwa, I. Allan Sealy, Shashi Tharoor, Sara Suleri, Firdaus Kanga, Anjana Appachana, Amit Chaudhuri, Amitav Ghosh, Githa Hariharan, Gita Mehta, Vikram Seth, Vikram Chandra, Ardashir Vakil, Mukul Kesavan, Arundhati Roy, and Kiran Desai.
Amazon.com Review
"Put India in the Atlantic Ocean," Salman Rushdie writes in hisintroduction to this anthology of Indian writers, "and it would reach fromEurope to America; put India and China together and you've got almost halfthe population of the world. It's high time Indian literature got itselfnoticed, and it's happening." It's no accident that Mirrorwork comprisesIndian literature produced during the 50 years between 1947 and 1997;timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Indianindependence, this collection is, above all, a celebration of the marriageof English language and Indian culture. Rushdie rather provocatively statesthat "the prose writing--both fiction and non-fiction--created in thisperiod by Indian writers writing in English is proving to be astronger and more important body of work than most of what has beenproduced in the 16 'official languages' of India; the so-called 'vernacularlanguages,' during the same time." One might (and certainly many will)quibble with this premise, but no one can argue that the works included inMirrorwork aren't top-drawer.

Many of the authors included in this collection are known to Westernreaders--Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, for example, Arundhati Roy, Rohinton Mistry,and of course Rushdie himself, to name just a few. Others, such as Saadat HasanManto (the only author here to appear in translation) or G.V. Desani, maybe welcome new reading experiences. The anthology is a fascinating mix ofnonfiction (Nehru's famous "Tryst with Destiny" speech, in which he utteredthe immortal words "At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the worldsleeps, India will awake to life and freedom," or Nayantara Sahgal's "WithPride and Prejudice") and fiction that ranges from the "Stendhalian realismof a writer like Rohinton Mistry" to Rushdie's own wild flights of fantasy.In all its diversity of styles, themes, and approaches, Mirrorworkis a reflection of the wonderful bedfellows the English language and theIndian sensibility truly make. --Alix Wilber ... Read more

Customer Reviews (7)

5-0 out of 5 stars Mirrorwork
The book was practically in mint condition--the only sign it had been used was a slight crease in the cover. The pages were in good condition, and the book still had that "new" smell. Shipped in good time. No qualms about buying from this seller.

4-0 out of 5 stars Worthwhile for Indian Writing in English
This book, edited by Salman Rushdie and Elizabeth West, was published in 1997 and contained 32 writers and as many works, created in the 50 years after India's independence. There were 14 extracts from novels, 12 short stories, 4 excerpts from memoirs, 1 excerpt from a nonfiction novel, and 1 speech.

As far as could be determined, more than two-thirds of the pieces came from the 1980s and 90s, and a fifth from the 1940s and 50s. There seemed to be very little from the 1960s and 70s.

Though this was an anthology of Indian writing, also included were works by two authors from Pakistan -- Bapsi Sidhwa (1938-) and Sara Suleri (1953-) -- together with another who left India for Pakistan, Saadat Hasan Manto (1912-55). And Ruth Prawer Jhabvala (1927-), a woman of Jewish heritage who was born in Germany and married to an Indian. V. S. Naipaul, according to Rushdie's introduction, declined inclusion in the collection.

Nearly all the writers selected had spent some years living in the West or currently live there. The few exceptions, as far as could be judged, were Narayan, Manto, Ray, Chatterjee and Roy.

In his introduction, Rushdie generated some controversy by stating that in the course of compilation he'd found Indian prose in English during the period was proving to be stronger and more important than writing in the vernacular languages, and that the writing in English was perhaps India's most valuable contribution to the world of books. As a result, all but one of the selections made for the anthology were written originally in that language. Of works in the many vernacular languages, only Manto's piece from the 1950s, translated from Urdu, was judged worthy of inclusion.

On the other hand, the editor of a more recent anthology of Indian prose, Amit Chaudhuri, has argued that Indian writing is much too diverse to be represented only by authors who write in English, many of whom live in the West. And that the most profound impact of Western culture on India, and Indians' complex response to it, can be discovered in the vernacular languages. It was worthwhile to keep the opposed viewpoints in mind while reading.

In Rushdie's anthology, roughly four generations of writers were included. The oldest were those born in the late 19th century or very early 20th (Nehru, Nirad Chaudhuri, Anand, Narayan, Desani, Manto). Following were those born in the 1920s through early 40s (Ray, Markandaya, Jhabvala, Anita Desai, Gita Mehta), the late 1940s through mid-60s (Rushdie, Sealy, Mistry, Seth, Ghosh, Tharoor, Kesavan, Chandra, Roy, Amit Chaudhuri), and the early 1970s (Kiran Desai).

Though many of the authors in this collection live abroad, all the works of fiction except for Desani's were set entirely in India or Pakistan. For the nonfiction, an excerpt from a work by Ghosh began with the narrator's attending a wedding somewhere in the Egyptian countryside, but his memories carried him back to a time of unrest in East Pakistan during the 1960s.

Some of the works of fiction in this anthology took place in the countryside, in nameless villages, or on a train. But many were set in cities: Delhi, Calcutta, Bombay, Madras, a city in Kerala, a town in Indian Punjab, and Lahore. A number concerned characters from the middle classes, and Chandra's was set among the well to do. This differed from the selections of a collection like Best Loved Indian Stories from Penguin Books India, which contained many earlier stories that were often set in the countryside or in nameless towns, among farmers and villagers. In Rushdie's collection, there wasn't a bullock cart in sight.

In terms of style, for me the main distinction in Rushdie's anthology was between the realists and what could be called the magic realists. The realists in their variety were concerned mainly with social observation and social types, the relations between people or psychological introspection, in lighter or darker shades (Markandaya, Jhabvala, Anita Desai, Gita Mehta, Mistry, Seth, Appachana, Hariharan, Chandra, Vakil).

The magic realist writers, on the other hand, leaned much more toward flamboyant wordplay, exaggeration or improbable situations, minute description of action, sights or smells, or some combination thereof, with relatively low degrees of coherence and readability (Desani, Sealy, Rushdie). The work by Desani showed the other two's debt to him in terms of style.

Other writers might be described as falling somewhere between realism and magic realism (Ray, Tharoor, Kesavan, Roy, Kiran Desai). Ray's short story was meticulously realist, except for the fabulist event at its center: a skeptic discovered a birdlike predator from the prehistoric age. Kesavan's followed an introspective older man walking around Delhi and contrasting the sights and smells with his memories of the U.S., before switching abruptly to different characters and an improbable situation. Roy's, an excerpt from The God of Small Things, was interesting for its minute, intense descriptions of actions, sense impressions and psychological states. The excerpt from Desai's novel described a childbirth amid a raging storm and flooding rivers, as an airplane flew overhead dropping care packages.

The extract from Tharoor's satirical novel was a sweeping view of events from Indian history in the 1920s as described clearly by a narrator, but taking historical figures like the Gandhis and Nehru and recasting them as characters from the Hindu epic, the Mahabharata. His work may be in a category of its own.

Various other categories in the anthology were memoirs dealing with moments in India's history, the seasons in a village at the turn of the century, a boy's life at a school for the blind, or a woman's memories of family, food and her native land (Sahgal, Nirad Chaudhuri, Ved Mehta, Suleri). Other prose works touched on independence or Indira Gandhi's assassination (Nehru, Chatterjee), while some stories dealt with partition, either with black humor (Manto) or a grim recording of the violence (Sidhwa). Some tales were mainly concerned with light humor (Anand, Narayan). There was also a piece by the writer Firdaus Kanga on a gay, disabled narrator's attraction to his male friend, interesting more for its subject than its style.

For me, the more memorable works were Nirad Chaudhuri's slow-paced but atmospheric description of the seasons in a village life around the river. The excerpt from Markandaya's 1950s novel Nectar in a Sieve that described memorably the desperation of a farming couple without money or crops. The work by Hariharan in which an old, devout Hindu woman began violating proscriptions against food, drink and behavior as she approached death. And the excerpt from Roy's novel.

Among the other Indians writing in English who weren't selected for this anthology: Raja Rao (1908-2006), K. A. Abbas (1914-87), Khushwant Singh (1915-), Ruskin Bond (1934-), Manoj Das (1934-), Bharati Mukherjee (1940-), Manjula Padmanabhan (1953-) and Sunetra Gupta (1965-).

Among those in other languages who weren't included for the time period: in Bengali, Manik Bandyopadhyay (1908-56), Buddhadev Bose (1908-74), Mahashweta Devi (1926-) and Sunil Gangopadhyay (1934-). In Hindi, Krishna Sobti (1925-) and Nirmal Verma (1929-2005). In Kannada, M. V. Iyengar (1891-1986) and U. R. Anantha Murthy (1932-). In Malayam, O. V. Vijayan (1930-2005). In Marathi, Gangadhar Gadgil (1923-). In Punjabi, Amrita Pritam (1919-2005). In Tamil, Ambai (1945-). And in Urdu, K. A. Abbas again, plus Ismat Chughtai, (1915-92), Qurratulain Hyder (1927-2007), Surendra Prakash (1930-), and the Pakistani writer Enver Sajjad (1935-).

One way to determine the relative truth of the claims made by Rushdie and Chaudhuri would be to read the latter's collection, The Picador Book of Modern Indian Literature (2001), published in 2004 in the U.S. under the Vintage title. It's somewhat more balanced, with half of the selections in English and half translated from some of the vernacular languages -- mainly Bengali, but also Hindi, Urdu, Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil and Oriya. And it offers a bit more background commentary on the writers and their concerns.

Like Rushdie, Chaudhuri hasn't escaped criticism, in the latter's case for the generous space given to translations from Bengali -- the language of his own region -- compared to other vernacular languages. For a more balanced selection of regional writing, there are Our Favourite Indian Stories (2001) and The Penguin Book of Modern Indian Short Stories (1989, revised 2001), as well as anthologies of short fiction translated from the vernacular languages that've been published every one or two years since 1990 by Katha Books of New Delhi.

Anyway, accepting Chaudhuri's argument about the lesser importance of the English writers didn't mean for me that the stories in Rushdie's collection were uninteresting. A certain amount of the dislike recorded by other readers for this anthology seemed grounded in scorn for Rushdie's assertions. But why blame the stories and authors for the claims he made for them.

3-0 out of 5 stars Slanted but still has some good work
I bought my copy inspite of reading severeal reviews criticizing Mr. Rushdie's choice of literature to represent Indian writing. ALthough I agree with most of the ctiticism, I was pleasently surprised to find that I did like the book immensely. It had been many years since I had read authors such as Anita Desai, and works such as Nayantara Sahgal's "With Pride and Prejudice" were enough for me to oversome the prejudice that I had in my when I started off reading it.

Had Mr. Rushdie not claimed to have collected works representing the entire Indian literature spectrum, he could have been fended a lot of the criticism that this book received.

2-0 out of 5 stars Not Indian, say expatriate writing
Very slanted in its choice of the authors, the book can hardly claim to berepresentative of Indian writing.Indo-English writing is a minisculeportion of Indian writing, both in quality and quantity, this fact has notbeen addressed in the editorial choices.

4-0 out of 5 stars Enjoyed it...
I enjoyed this anthology quite a bit.It may be "self-serving and slanted towards his friends"but his friends write *well* and I enjoyed reading their work. His introduction is especially good andaddresses several issues that are mentioned above.

No one should expect an anthology to be complete- their very nature is to exclude more than they include.

I appreciate seeing some of my favorite "Indian" authors in print (Rushdie, Vikram Seth, Arundhati Roy among others) and I look forward to acompanion edition in the future.

If anyone would like to recommend another anthology of post-indepence Indian fiction I would be interested in hearing about it. ... Read more

18. The Jaguar Smile: Nicaraguan Journey
by Salman Rushdie
Paperback: 160 Pages (2007-03-01)
list price: US$16.50 -- used & new: US$6.97
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Asin: 0099285223
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Editorial Review

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In this brilliantly focussed and haunting portrait of the people, the politics, the land, and the poetry of Nicaragua, Salman Rushdie brings to the forefront the palpable human facts of a country in the midst of revolution. Rushdie went to Nicaragua in 1986. What he discovered was overwhelming: a land of difficult, often beautiful contradictions, of strange heroes and warrior-poets. Rushdie came to know an enormous range of people, from the foreign minister - a priest - to the midwife who kept a pet cow in her living room. His perceptions always heightened by his sensitivity and his unique flair for language, in "The Jaguar Smile", Rushdie brings us the true Nicaragua, where nothing is simple, everything is contested, and life-or-death struggles are an everyday occurrence. ... Read more

19. Conversations with Salman Rushdie (Literary Conversations Series)
by Michael Reder, Michael R. Reder
Paperback: 238 Pages (2000-07-01)
list price: US$22.00 -- used & new: US$11.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1578061857
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

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"If there's an attempt to silence a writer, the best thing a writer can do is not be silenced. If somebody is trying to stifle your voice, you should try and make sure it speaks louder than before."

Acclaim, success, and controversy follow every one of Salman Rushdie's writings. His novels and stories have won him awards and made him both famous in the literary world and a catalyst for protests worldwide. For nearly a decade after publication of The Satanic Verses, he faced a bounty on his life.

Although Rushdie has participated in a great number of interviews, many of his most revealing conversations were published in journals and newspapers throughout the globe -- not only in England and the United States, but also in India, Canada, and across Europe. Conversations with Salman Rushdie, the first collection of interviews with Rushdie, brings together the best and some of the rarest of the interviews the author has granted.

Though many know Rushdie for his novels, what most do not realize is the breadth of Rushdie's writing and thinking. There are many other Salman Rushdies -- the travel writer, the crafter of short stories, the filmmaker, the "children's" story writer, the essayist and critic, and the unflinching commentator on contemporary culture, particularly on race and inequality.

"The speaking of suppressed truths is one of the great possibilities of the novel," he tells the Third World Book Review, "and it is perhaps the main reason why the novel becomes the most dangerous of art forms in all countries where people, governments, are trying to distort the truth."

Rushdie talks extensively about the creative process, about his views on art and politics, and about his life before and after the fatwa. Articulate, witty, and learned, he shows the side of himself that sparks such controversy. While not necessarily seeking to provoke, Rushdie shows how controversy is often inseparable from the politically charged situations and issues that compel him to write.

Rushdie takes risks in his writing, pushing both the novelistic form and language to its limits. "Dispense with safety nets," he says in Imaginary Homelands. These interviews reveal a man with a powerful mind, a wry sense of humor, and an unshakable commitment to justice.

Michael R. Reder is director of the Roth Writing Center and an instructor in the department of English at Connecticut College. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

4-0 out of 5 stars A real treat for Rushdie fans
The collection of interviews compiled here is a remarkable chronicling of the pursuits and tribulations that Rushdie has had to encounter in his work, often controversial yet boldly empowering to voices unheard from in India, and I think it serves a very useful role in trying to unravel the whole Rushdie phenomenon. Rushdie's response to the fatwa, his original intentions in portraying the more controversial elements of Midnight's Children, his take on contemporaries, Gunther Grass, Garcia Marquez, are all stimulating works. This is the art of the interview on showcase here, folks, and even if you've read "Step Across This Line" or Rushdie's other personal essays, this offers a third-person perspective that will enchant readers nonetheless.

Interestingly enough, I recently heard Rushdie talk at a lecture in New York recently, and hearing him speak on a letter he received anonymously, I recollect the words, which admirably enough, say to Rushdie something to the effect of: "Imagine you are surrounded by terrorists pointing guns to your head in an enclosed room, and entering this room there is only a door. Imagine your lover is outside somewhere hopefully trying to save you. Now imagine the door being broken down, the gunmen turn around, and the hero who enters first is struck down with bullets. Even though the person first to break down the door is now riddled with bullets, the door is still broken down. Others may now enter and save me. This is what you have done for me."

I find this enormously helpful in coming to grips with his story and the large degree of *inspiration* Rushdie has provided people in the aftermath of his human tragedy. The freedoms for which he has "taken the hit" and by which others can now be liberated to speak their concerns cannot be underscored more gracefully.

But my own anecdotes aside, this collection is a very good one, indeed, and if you're looking for greater insight into Rushdie the Man, not Rushdie the Myth, you can look no further. The interviews are sparkling at times and always rich and provocative. ... Read more

20. Imaginary Homelands: Essays and Criticism 1981-1991
by Salman Rushdie
Paperback: 439 Pages (1992-05-01)
list price: US$17.00 -- used & new: US$5.44
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Asin: 0140140360
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Rushdie at his most candid, impassioned, and incisive--an important and moving record of one writer's intellectual and personal odyssey. These 75 essays demonstrate Rushdie's range and prophetic vision, as he focuses on his fellow writers, on films, and on the mine-strewn ground of race, politics and religion. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (8)

5-0 out of 5 stars Ten years bookended by euphoria and exile...
"Imaginary Homelands" encapsulates some of Salman Rushdie's most potent literary "passing overs." 1981, when this collection of essays and reviews begins, witnessed the publication of Rushdie's second novel, "Midnight's Children." Unlike its stillborn predecessor, "Grimus," this thick, billowing and poignant book made his name. From advertising copywriter, to near poverty, to the Man Booker Prize. All in one action-packed year. Doubtless, Rushdie was never the same. By stark contrast, 1991, when this collection was published, found the acclaimed author literally running for his life from Ayatollah Khomeini's 1989 "Satanic Verses" fatwa. His situation grew so dire that a speech included in the book's final section, entitled "Is Nothing Sacred?" was read in absentia. Doubtless, Rushdie was never the same. A decade bookended by euphoria and exile. In between, as this thick book reveals, Rushdie's pen almost never ceased its frenetic scribbling. His thoughts meandered widely: from migration, religion, esteemed colleagues, travel, India, Pakistan, England, the United States, racism, gambling, and film. The themes he explores in his novels also manifest themselves throughout this book's twelve sections.

The book's title essay discusses exile from country and culture and the alienation of the dislocated writer. The past remains elusive enough, never mind the half-remembered mores and social codes of one's lost homeland. These themes remain fundamental to Rushdie's work. After excoriating the murder of Indira Gandhi, adumbrating the Nehru-Gandhi "dynasty" (still discussed today in the Indian press), the discussion moves, briefly, to pros and cons of Pakistan. Resurgence of British imperialist ideology during the Thatcher years disturbs Rushdie in the scathing "Outside the Whale" and "Attenborough's Gandhi." On similar lines, "The New Empire Within Britain," apparently a transcript of a widely distributed videotape, deconstructs British racism. The bulk of the book comprises numerous literary reviews, most of which run between 2 to 5 pages. While streaming through these, readers will learn that Rushdie loved, among other things, Ishiguro's "Remains of the Day," Calvino's work in general, Márquez's "Chronicle of a Death Foretold," and Pynchon's "Vineland." Also, perhaps more interestingly, readers will discover that Rushdie did not particularly care for, among other things, Le Carré's "The Russia House," Eco's "Foucault's Pendulum" ("I hated it," he spews), Vargas Llosa's "The Real Life of Alejandro Mayta," Vonnegut's "Hocus Pocus," and Naipaul's "Among the Believers." The reviews read quickly, but the longer essays require more concentration. One of these, "In God We Trust," examines voluminous topics, including the religious versus the nationalistic atmosphere of 1990, the emergence of "reality" from imagination, and the creeping malaise of the United States. Here he digs deep.

Arguably, the book's most memorable piece, the one that will stick to people's psyches, is "In Good Faith." In almost 20 pages Rushdie defends "The Satanic Verses" against charges of insolence, literary brutality, and heresy. Along the way he discusses many of the book's themes, symbols, and intended meanings. He likens the controversy to a monstrous category mistake. Frustration, confusion, and agony bubble from every sentence. Intense stuff. And for the final show, the big closer, the book's edition makes quite adifference. Hardcover printings end with the essay "Why I Have Embraced Islam." Rushdie later deemed this too conciliatory and the very delayed paperback release dumped this piece in favor of the far less toadying "One Thousand Days in a Balloon." Given his situation in 1991, with threats flying from every corner, no one should blame him for the earlier piece's desperate tone. But new editions bring new perspectives, and "Imaginary Homelands" contains perspectives, insights, and entertainment in droves. An apt companion to Rushdie's literary work, this collection will help illuminate one of today's most important - and courageous - authors.

4-0 out of 5 stars Excellent example of Rushdie, do not take to gym.
This is an excellent collection, you are correct about that. But it is *not* a good book to take to the gym with you.

Even though the criticisms and essays are short, they require a bit of thought while reading. So you can't really pick it up and put it down while trying to run on a treadmill or likewise.

I do recommend this book if you would like to get a feel for Rushdie and don't want to take on a full novel. I also recommend, "The Wizard of Oz (Bfi Film Classics) (Paperback)". It is a critique he wrote for Bfi and it's a fast read.

4-0 out of 5 stars Eclectic Essays
This is an excellent collection of mostly short pieces about a variety of subjects. From politics to religion to literature, Rushdie is well informed and opinionated.I found him particularly good on Islam and India.This kind of book is great for the gym or train, since most of the pieces are quite short.Two of the last pieces give his perspective on the fatwa that turned his life upside down after the publication of The Satanic Versus. I was intrigued to see that he regrets delaying the paperback publication version for three years as a concession to the Islamic radicals (I remember waiting for the paperback version so I could see what it was all about).

4-0 out of 5 stars An inconsistent but nice collection for Rushdie fans
IMAGINARY HOMELANDS is a collection of Salman Rushdie's writings from 1981 to 1991. They include essays, book reviews, interviews, and random musings dating from the beginning of his popularity after his novel MIDNIGHT'S CHILDREN until the third anniversary of the death fatwa pronounced on him by the Ayatollah Khomeini for his book THE SATANIC VERSES.

As with any collection of essays, IMAGINARY HOMELANDS is inconsistent and not every essay will interest every reader. However, there's sure to be a lot of gems here for fans of Rushdie. The literary legacy of the 1980's is quickly being erased from the popular memory, and readers today are forgetting the output of that underappreciated decade. There are reviews here range from one of Graham Greene's last novels to physics superstar Stephen Hawking's A BRIEF HISTORY OF TIME. Reading IMAGINARY HOMELANDS today is important to refresh one's knowledge of the 1980's from a literary standpoint. Also, Rushdie proves himself again a man deeply troubled by oppression. He often mentions Pakistan's ruthless US-supported General Zia, and in "A Conversation with Edward Said" deals with the issue of Palestinian identity. His review of V.S. Naipaul's "Among the Believers", a journal of travels through the new Islamic states that sprung up in the 80's, and his two essays on the reaction of Muslims to THE SATANIC VERSES are helpful works to read in this time when dealing with Islamic extremism is such a driving force in international relations. Critics have often found Salman Rushdie hard to classify, wondering if he is an Indian or British writer, or a "Commonwealth" novelist, and Rushdie confronts the madness of classifying everything in "There Is No Such Thing As Commonwealth Literature".

If you enjoyed greatly the wry irony of THE SATANIC VERSES and other Rushdie novels, IMAGINARY HOMELANDS may interest you. While it won't engage the average reader, fans of Rushdie will get a lot out of this collection.

4-0 out of 5 stars The Opinions of an Opinionated Man
For all those who have read and loved a Rushdie novel, Imaginary Homelands provides more of the same biting humor, insightful thoughts, and elegant prose as Rushdie shares with us his thoughts on everything from censorshipto Stephen Hawking.A fair amount of time is spent on criticisms ofvarious novels and authors and I, for one, found it fascinating to see whatsuch an acclaimed author thinks of his peers. Given that this volumecontains numerous essays, you will definitely want to pick and choose whatto read and will probably end up doing so over an extended period of time.But you must at least take the time to read a little. As always, Rushdie'slanguage is beautiful and forthrightness admirable. ... Read more

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