The Satanic Verses has been dubbed (amongst many other things!) `the most famous book most people will never read'. If true it's is a real shame, because at the centre of all the extreme opinion that surrounds the book, the condemnation, acclaim and analysis, is an incredible and accessible novel far greater than the sum of its few controversial parts. Gibreel Farishta and Saladin Chamcha `crash land' together in England from India and are both profoundly transformed by the experience. Farishta begins to develop an angelic halo, while Chamcha metamorphoses into a cloven-hoofed devil complete with horns and bad breath. Both men suffer, in different ways, the brutality and indignity of their transformations in Rushdie's evocation of a tense and brooding London. Ultimately it is the `demonic' Chamcha who finds fulfilment by returning to India, the `angelic' Farishta is not so fortunate. Merging fantasy and reality, Rushdie uses the subversive excesses of `magical realism' to explore the demands of migration and how those demands can destroy the fragile assurances of identity and belonging most of us take for granted. Farishta is haunted by the nightmares of his lost Muslim faith, Chamcha by the impossible dream of reinventing himself as an Englishman. Through these and the experiences of other often outrageously conceived characters, Rushdie reflects on how people suffer, and are made to suffer, for the sake of a little certainty. If it all sounds a little heavy, don't be put off. Above all this is a great piece of story-telling, funny, extraordinary and completely absorbing. Rushdie works his usual narrative magic, writing on a grand exuberant scale that takes in everything from sex and death to flying carpets and hot wax, but also the delicate intimacies of desire and despair. Poignant and staggeringly imaginative, The Satanic Verses explores continuing cultural obsessions with purity and stability in a world increasingly lacking in either.