Salman Rushdie – The Satanic Verses

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Salman Rushdie – The Satanic Verses

No book in modern times has matched the uproar sparked by Salman Rushdie'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 of language served up by a writer at the height of his powers, and a rollicking comic fable. The book begins with two Indians, Gibreel Farishta (”for fifteen years the biggest star in the history of the Indian movies”) and Saladin Chamcha, a Bombay expatriate returning from his first visit to his homeland in 15 years, plummeting from the sky after the explosion of their jetliner, and proceeds through a series of metamorphoses, dreams and revelations. Rushdie's powers of invention are astonishing in this Whitbread Prize winner.

From Publishers Weekly

Banned in India before publication, this immense novel by Booker Prize-winner Rushdie ( Midnight's Children ) pits Good against Evil in a whimsical and fantastic tale. Two actors from India, “prancing” Gibreel Farishta and “buttony, pursed” Saladin Chamcha, are flying across the English Channel when the first of many implausible events occurs: the jet explodes. As the two men plummet to the earth, “like titbits of tobacco from a broken old cigar,” they argue, sing and are transformed. When they are found on an English beach, the only survivors of the blast, Gibreel has sprouted a halo while Saladin has developed hooves, hairy legs and the beginnings of what seem like horns. What follows is a series of allegorical tales that challenges assumptions about both human and divine nature. Rushdie's fanciful language is as concentrated and overwhelming as a paisley pattern. Angels are demonic and demons are angelic as we are propelled through one illuminating episode after another. The narrative is somewhat burdened by self-consciousness that borders on preciosity, but for Rushdie fans this is a splendid feast.

Review

“A glittering novelist – one with startling imagination and intellectual resources, a master of perpetual storytelling.” – V.S. Pritchett, The New Yorker

“Abundant in enchanting narratives and amazingly peopled, The Satanic Verses is both a philosophy and an Arabian nights entertainment. What wit, what real warmth in Rushdie’s thousand-eyed perceptions of the inferno within us and the vainglory of our aspirations! His ambitions are huge, and his creativity triumphantly matches them…A staggering achievement, brilliantly enjoyable.” – Nadine Gordimer

“A masterpiece.” – Bill Bruford, TheSunday Times

“Swift's Gulliver's Travels, Voltaire's Candide, Sterne's Tristam Shandy…. Salman Rushdie, it seems to me, is very much a latter day member of their company.” – New York Times Book Review

“Further evidence of Rushdie’s stature as one of the most original, imaginative, perplexing, and important writers of our time.” –Publishers Weekly

“A novel of metamorphoses, hauntings, hallucinations, revelations, advertising jingles jokes… Rushdie has the power of description, and we succumb.” – Victoria Glendinning, The Times

“An exhilarating… populous, loquacious, sometimes hilarious, extraordinary contemporary novel… a roller coaster ride over a vast majority of the imagination” – Angela Carter, The Guarduan

“A truly original novel…sustained at headlong pace by the author whose powers of invention and construction, command of every variety of English and Anglo-Indian idiom, sense of desperate comedy, and within of intellectual reference have been well-exercised before, but neber on such a scale.” – Hyam Maccoby, The Sunday Telegraph

 

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