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Haroun and the Sea of Stories (Puffin Books) Paperback – March 25, 1993


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Product Details

  • Series: Puffin Books
  • Paperback: 211 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books, Limited (UK) (March 25, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140366504
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140366501
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (178 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #979,997 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Immediately forget any preconceptions you may have about Salman Rushdie and the controversy that has swirled around his million-dollar head. You should instead know that he is one of the best contemporary writers of fables and parables, from any culture. Haroun and the Sea of Stories is a delightful tale about a storyteller who loses his skill and a struggle against mysterious forces attempting to block the seas of inspiration 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 Stream of Stories, and even though he was full of a sense of hopelessness and failure the magic of the Ocean began to have an effect on Haroun. He looked into the water and saw that it was made up of a thousand thousand thousand and one different currents, each one a different colour, weaving in and out of one another like a liquid tapestry of breathtaking complexity; and Iff explained that these were the Streams of Story, that each coloured strand represented and contained a single tale. Different parts of the Ocean contained different sorts of stories, and as all the stories that had ever been told and many that were still in the process of being invented could be found here, the Ocean of the Streams of Story was in fact the biggest library in the universe. And because the stories were held here in fluid form, they retained the ability to change, to become new versions of themselves, to join up with other stories and so become yet other stories; so that unlike a library of books, the Ocean of the Streams of Story was much more than a storeroom of yarns. It was not dead, but alive.

"And if you are very, very careful, or very, very highly skilled, you can dip a cup into the Ocean," Iff told Haroun, "like so," and here he produced 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.

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Following the unprecedented controversy generated by The Satanic Verses , Rushdie offers as eloquent a defense of art as any Renaissance treatise. Supposedly begun as a bedtime story for Rushdie's son, Haroun concerns a supremely talented storyteller named Rashid whose wife is lured away by the same saturnine neighbor who poisons Rashid's son Haroun's thoughts. "What's the use of stories that aren't even true?" Haroun demands, parroting the neighbor and thus unintentionally paralyzing Rashid's imagination. The clocks freeze: time literally stops when the ability to narrate its passing is lost. Repentant, Haroun quests through a fantastic realm in order to restore his father's gift for storytelling. Saturated with the hyperreal color of such classic fantasies as the Wizard of Oz and Alice in Wonderland , Rushdie's fabulous landscape operates by P2C2Es (Processes Too Complicated To Explain), features a court where all the attendant Pages are numbered, and unfurls a riotous display of verbal pranks (one defiant character chants "You can chop suey, but / You can't chop me!"; elsewhere, from another character: " 'Gogogol,' he gurgled. " 'Kafkafka,' he coughed"). But although the pyrotechnics here are entertaining in and of themselves, the irresistible force of the novel rests in Rushdie's wholehearted embrace of the fable--its form as well as its significance. It's almost as if Rushdie has invented a new form, the meta-fable. Rather than retreating under the famous death threats, Rushdie reiterates the importance of literature, stressing not just the good of stories "that aren't even true" but persuading us that these stories convey the truth. As Haroun realizes, "He knew what he knew: that the real world was full of magic, so magical worlds could easily be real."
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Adults will enjoy this book very much as well.
N. Zare
The use of language and the breadth of Rushdie's imagination is brilliant!
Vijay Sankar
Essentially, "Haroun and the Sea of Stories" is a story about censorship.
Artnet Project

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

44 of 48 people found the following review helpful By A Reader on January 19, 2003
Format: Paperback
Literature often transcends pre-set boundaries of category or genre. Prime examples include the chronicles of Alice and Gulliver originally conceived to satirise society and later metamorphosed into children's classics, and more recently the popularity of the Harry Potter novels among adult readers. 'Haroun and the sea of stories' could be placed in a similar category. It can be read as a fairy tale or as a satire that addresses everyday problems, narrates social conditions and broaches political issues.
Regarded by readers and critics alike as one of the master storytellers of the present day literary world, it is not surprising that Mr.Rushdie has conjured up a fantasy based on the world or rather the ocean of stories, named after the ancient Indian treatise Kathasaritsagar.
The protagonist Haroun Khalifa is a young boy who leads a happy middle class life distinct from the rich, poor, `super-rich' and `super-poor' people inhabiting a nameless sad city.
Haroun's father Rashid Khalifa is a famous story teller - the Shah of Blah with fabled oceans of notions, who often refers to the streams of story water he drinks to keep up the supply of wondrous tales that pour forth from within him. Haroun takes this as an eccentric statement by his father, and soon discovers that the ocean of stories indeed exists, and that only he could save it from total annihilation.
Haroun's world is suddenly taken apart when his mother elopes with their neighbour Mr.Sengupta, a mean clerk who had forever questioned the significance of Rashid's tales ('What's the use of stories that are not even true?') and Rashid loses his gift to spin wondrous yarns.
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35 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on February 9, 2000
Format: Paperback
An instant classic. This is a story that is meant to be read over and over, out loud, silently, in public, or in the comfort of one's own bed.
The words flow and flow, lyrical and rhythmic, while spinning this beautiful fantasy. After reading the book, I find myself talking like the characters, chuckling to myself on the subway suddenly reminded of something in the book.
In fact, when I was reading this book on the way to work, I had people come up to me and ask "How is that?" (Which is unheard of, especially for New York Commuters!). All I can say is, "Just Delightful. Highly Recommend you read it."
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33 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Russell Belfer on December 18, 1999
Format: Paperback
This book works simply as a beautiful fantasy story about a boy who saves a world of make believe, and can also be taken as a deeper meditation on creativity, the dangers of authoritarianism, the value and the honest weaknesses of democracy, the important of history, and the occasional importance of maintaining an illusion. It is easy to read, great for children, and illuminating for adults. An excellent introduction to Salman Rushdie.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By jrk on October 21, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This may be the most delightfully whimsical yet brilliant little book I've ever read. A joy at every level - story, characters, themes, language - it literally made me smile every time I read it. A testament to the value of concision and expertly-crafted simplicity, after reading The Satanic Verses, Fury, and The Ground Beneath Her Feet, this proved to me that Rushdie's seeming mastry of language and storytelling was far from some style he coincidentally stumbled across which worked for both him and his audience, but was a result of unique craft which he can scale deftly across any genre or style.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Drew R on October 9, 2004
Format: Paperback
In Haroun and the Sea of Stories, Salmon Rushdie leads the reader through a magical journey filled with creative characters, parallels, symbolism, and most of all he teaches us the importance of words and verbal expression. When Haroun's mom leaves him, and Haroun's father Rashid, a renowned storyteller known as the "Ocean of Notions" loses his ability to tell stories, Haroun finds himself on a heroic journey to save his father's storytelling ability and learn the importance of stories. Haroun's journey takes place on Kahani, earth's second moon where the source of all stories, the sea of stories is located. Like currents, the stories in this ocean are bountiful and beautiful. The sea itself is being destroyed by Khattam Shud, "the foe of speech," and Haroun must choose whether to save his father, the storyteller, or the source of all stories. Filled with plentimaw fishes, mechanical birds, floating gardeners, shadow warriors and much more, Rushdie continues to surprise the reader with delightful and creative characters. These characters ultimately help Haroun on his journey to defeat the evil Khattam Shud, and save the ocean and it's stories from being destroyed. The following is an excerpt from the book which describes Mudra, a warrior who fights with his own shadow:

"What terrifying eyes they were! Instead of whites, they had blacks; and the irises were grey as twilight, and the pupils were white as milk." (Rushdie 125)

With descriptions like these, Salmon Rushdie paints a picture of the characters in the mind of the reader. Not only are the characters in this story are original, creative, and intriguing, but they are well described.

What's the use of stories that aren't even true? This question is asked repeatedly throughout the book.
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