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The Satanic Verses: A Novel Paperback – March 11, 2008
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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 Audible Audio Edition 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 Audible Audio Edition edition.
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Actually, there are two possible themes that are coming to mind. First is the pain of not belonging which is shown clearly by the lives of South Asian and black immigrants in London; and very poignantly by a character in India who earns his living as a clown. He was born a lower caste Hindu and to escape the pain of it converted to Islam, but he isn't even accepted in that world either. His only true companion is his pet bull who he dresses up and uses in his clown acts. The other possible theme could be the paradox of good and evil existing side by side. Gibreel Farishta's lover's father, a Holocaust survivor, says, "'...the most dangerous of all the lies we are fed in our lives,' which was in his opinion, the idea of the continuum. 'Anybody ever tries to tell you how this most beautiful and most evil of planets is somehow homogenous, composed only of reconcilable elements, that it all adds up, you get on the phone to the straightjacket tailor...'"
Yes, there is a destructive Mahound and imam who either themselves or whose helpers torture and gorge on innocent people, but that is a fact of life. I read several reviews in which the writers were claiming that Rushdie was being spiteful in writing this book, but even though I believe he knew exactly what were going to be the results of publishing it, I doubt he meant spite. An artist reacts intellectually and emotionally to the world around them, gets ideas, thoughts, tastes, and a writer is compelled to write them. However, I am waiting for someone to write a novel about a writer with only one successful book behind him, whose sales are diminishing, who makes an arrangement with a notorious religious despot that he will write a disparaging expose and the despot will put a fatwa on his head, thereby ensuring fame and fortune for them both by the sheer magnitude of the ensuring notoriety.
This novel is a farcical entanglement of historical legend and modern psychology. I’m glad I returned to it after all these years to enjoy an exceptionally good read.
It's abundantly clear that Mr. Rushdie is an incredible intellect with great skill in parody. Sadly those being parodied lack the ability to grasp or even tolerate humor.