- Paperback: 216 pages
- Publisher: Granta Books/Penguin (1991)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780140157376
- ISBN-13: 978-0140157376
- ASIN: 0140157379
- Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.6 x 7.7 inches
- Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 260 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #21,283 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Haroun and the Sea of Stories Paperback – November 1, 1991
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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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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.
Well this is nothing like that, it is more like a roller coaster but with better emotional payoff. The story and setting are colorful and the plot twists fresh and unexpected. Characters are unlike any you've met before, and the dialogue and narrative are full of puns and playfulness. And beneath it all? Tons of subtext and allegory, woven in so expertly that you literally could just ignore it and still have a fun read. But if you take the trouble of going back for the inner meanings and symbols and whatnot (like they were doing in the school assignment) you find meaningful, thoughtful and somewhat moving messages that enrich the total experience.
Why this book is not more famous, I don't know but as literature it makes the Wizard of Oz (which is supposedly allegorical, too) look dull and awkward by comparison, even taking into account the century of literary change in between. Haroun is perfectly fine for young readers but there's no reason for adults to miss out.
My advice: don't be thrown off by the long, analytical reviews and don't expect that you have to think like a college student to enjoy this. Just grab a copy, open it up and begin. Don't load it down with expectations. Just read -- you will have fun!
In addition to being appealing to children - it is funny at time; it is an adventure and it is picturesque - it is about the creative process (writing in particular) and enjoys twists on popular western cultural icons and names as well as labels. It carries sophisticated jokes and word play that is pleasing to children on one level and to adults on another. Almost in the manner that Rocky and Bullwinkle appeal across age ranges.
I purchased the digital version and am going to create an audio book for my daughter at her request. She is now out of college...
Not only is it filled with vivid imagination, unlikely metaphors, and inventive allegories, but it mirrors Rushdie's very own reality. Plagued with a real-life FATWA after his release of "The Satanic Verses," the novel uses the importance of binaries: Speech and Silence, the Light versus the Dark, to address his feelings towards the unruly censorship tied to the Fatwa.
Freedom of speech is also addressed within the novel. I actually wrote a paper critiquing the use of allegories, but seriously! the quarter just ended and the last thing I want to do is write a lengthy review! Just a great novel, pick it up :)