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Haroun and the Sea of Stories Paperback – November 1, 1991

4.4 out of 5 stars 241 customer reviews
Book 1 of 2 in the Khalifa Brothers Series

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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.

From Publishers Weekly

In a contemporary fable filled with riotous verbal pranks, Haroun, who unintentionally stopped time when he froze his father's esteemed storytelling ability, seeks to undo his error on a quest through a magical realm. "As eloquent a defense of art as any Renaissance treatise . . . saturated with the hyperreal color of such classic fantasies as The Wizard of Oz and Alice in Wonderland ," said PW.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 216 pages
  • Publisher: Granta Books/Penguin; 1st edition (November 1, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140157379
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140157376
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.6 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (241 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,775 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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Format: Paperback
Very simply, this is the best book I've ever read to my kids. It grabbed their imagination in a way that no other book ever had. Something about this story fired their spirits and had my three, from 8 from 12, begging for me to read more, and had them changing their schedules ("What? You're done with homework already?") to ensure we could read more chapters at night. (And during weekend days!) We read it over a year ago now, and they still talk about it.

I bought "Haroun" after a review (in the WSJ maybe?) and read it myself first, which made me rush through the book we had, just to start it. Their response, however, was unprecedented. They were _very_ moved by what I had thought was a really good book, but which they immediately took to like no other story ever.

I'm sure reviews of the other edition tell enough of the plot that I need not repeat anything here. (I don't know what, if anything, is different in the other; I recommend this one because I know it.) I hope it suffices to say that Rushdie's effort to write a good story for his own son has changed my kids' worlds. This is now the novel to which they compare all others they read or heard.

They were transfixed by Haroun's every move and they loved the fantastic characters ("But but but!"). They appreciated the wordplay, "P2C2E", and the arc of Haroun's journey especially. Their sentimental dad was moved by the ending and by the experience of reading it to his kids.

"Haroun" excited them like no story before or since.

Thank you, Mr. Rushdie.
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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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I teach 8th grade English as a charter school with an accelerated curriculum. This book is the best-kept secret for us English teachers, as it's a wondrous story for teaching close readings for symbolism, magical realism, characterization, and allegory. And yet, because there are so few online resources for it, I don't have to worry my students are plagiarizing assignments off Shmoop, eNotes or Cliff notes. I've written my own study guides and Power Points, tying it in with lessons on the fall of the Berlin wall and the Iranian fatwa against the author so we could broaden our discussion of censorship and free speech.

Both my South Asian and western students feel like this story speaks to them with its singsong English idiom, likable young hero, easily accessible symbolism, strong elements of fantasy, and numerous allusions to everything from the Beatles to the 1001 Arabian Nights. I highly recommend this to anyone -- adult or adolescent -- searching for an engaging read that crosses cultural and genre boundaries.
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