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The Satanic Verses: A Novel Paperback – March 11, 2008


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks; Reprint edition (March 11, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812976711
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812976717
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.5 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (339 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8,275 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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. 50,000 first printing; $50,000 ad/promo; first serial to Harper's; BOMC alternate; QPBC alternate; author tour.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

This is a good book but a tough read.
David G. Cohen
Aside from the imaginative interwoven plot the most compelling feature of Verses is Rushdie's amazing lyrical writing style.
Christopher A. Smith
Maybe I'm just a stupid American, but I think reading should be enjoyable, and this novel simply wasn't.
J. England

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1,514 of 1,560 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 7, 2001
Format: Paperback
Being a Moslem, and having recently returned from an extended stay in India, I read The Satanic Verses with keen interest and found that both of these experiences contributed immensely to my enjoyment of this complex work. It was a clever showcase of Rushdie's typically brilliant prose, and a thoroughly compelling read. But be warned: many of the jokes and references probably would escape the average Western reader (by average, I mean one not familiar with Islam or Indian culture).
That being said, I noticed that many reviewers here say they do not find the book offensive to Moslems, while simultaneously admitting their own lack of knowledge regarding Islam. As a fairly well-versed Moslem, I can impartially state that Rushdie repeatedly criticizes, and even ridicules, the Islamic faith, in ways both subtle and overt, throughout this entire book.
Did Rushie's criticism bother me? Not at all. Did it justify a Fatwa by the Ayatollah? Of course not. But can the book be reasonably interpreted as being offensive to some Moslems? Those who know the Islamic faith would be hard-pressed to argue otherwise.
Nevertheless, realizing that this is just a work of fiction by a gifted novelist, I enjoyed reading the book and recommend it to all my friends.
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241 of 262 people found the following review helpful By Darren Hughes on February 10, 2000
Format: Paperback
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.
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69 of 76 people found the following review helpful By Nawfal on October 10, 2007
Format: Paperback
I am of the belief that Ruhullah Khomeini made his infamous fatwa against Rushdie (and this novel) based on one line in the book: "when the aga khan drinks wine, it turns to water in his mouth." This is a direct mocking of Ruhullah Khomeini and probably was the real reason for the fatwa. Khomeini fiercely wanted to be the grand marja' of every shia; he worked to gain supreme power in the form of a theocratic revolutionary. I believe Rushdie's comment was probably more stinging to his assumed authority than anything else in the novel. Picking on Islam would have united people under Khomeini (uniting against a common enemy), but attacking Khomeini would usurp his power and divide his support base.

This is not to say that the book does not have plenty of subtle and intertwined criticisms and twists on the Islamic faith. To understand these moments in the book the reader does need a fairly large knowledge of Islam. There aren't direct and pointed attacks, they are more so the settings of scenes, the ruminations of characters (particularly Salman the Persian). Many of these episodes which display twists on early Islamic history are presented as in a dream by a crazed Indian actor, Gibreel Farishta. So Rushdie never goes so far as to suggest that any of these sequences is even possibly true.

But to balance the above, are moments where faith and willing suspension of disbelief courageously overcome and succeed. Magical experiences which suggest that those who mock religion are actually the fools.

Rushdie's writing style can be a bit difficult, but once you get used to it, its very melodic and rich. The reader gets the feeling that Rushdie never rushes (!) his prose; there is never a hurried sense to his narrative. Aside from religious content, sex and violence are topics that are, if not explicitly detailed out, present continually through the book. The book isn't for easily disturbed readers.
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65 of 72 people found the following review helpful By Christopher A. Smith on December 1, 2000
Format: Paperback
An incredibly original and creative novel.
Many readers have been drawn to this novel by the provocative controversy which surrounds it. If you're reading Satanic Verses looking for a shocking denouncement you will likely be disappointed. Unless you're a scholar of the Islamic faith you likely won't understand what all the fuss is about.
I read this novel over ten years ago and have re-read it in bits and pieces many times since. Aside from the imaginative interwoven plot the most compelling feature of Verses is Rushdie's amazing lyrical writing style. Love him or hate him Rushdie is undoubtedly one of the most brilliant authors writing in the English language, and practically every section of prose could be enjoyed on it's own independent of the story. There is more word-play and double meanings is Verses than you could find in a dozen readings; every time you read a chapter you'll find something new.
Aside from a general interest in the various religions of the world I profess no great knowledge of the Koran, therefore undoubtedly there is symbolism in Verses that I missed/didn't understand. Some elements of this book that won't be accessible for the lay reader. But based purely on its creativity and masterful prose this book is a worthwhile, entertaining, and challenging read.
(A background note: Satanic Verses was the first Rushdie novel I read, and I promptly fell in love with his work. I subsequently read The Moor's Last Sigh and East West, and promptly feel right back out of love. Satanic Verses was the novel that Rushdie was born to write; in his lyrical prose, humor, and surrealistic mix of realism with the fantastic he creates an amazing work of art. Nothing he has written comes close. Unless you're a die-hard Rushdie fan, a scholar of Indian society and the interrelation between East and West simply read this novel and skip the rest.)
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