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Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights: A Novel Paperback – July 12, 2016
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“[Salman] Rushdie is our Scheherazade, inexhaustibly enfolding story within story and unfolding tale after tale with such irrepressible delight that it comes as a shock to remember that, like her, he has lived the life of a storyteller in immediate peril. . . . This book is a fantasy, a fairytale—and a brilliant reflection of and serious meditation on the choices and agonies of our life in this world. . . . I like to think how many readers are going to admire the courage of this book, revel in its fierce colors, its boisterousness, humor and tremendous pizzazz, and take delight in its generosity of spirit.”—Ursula K. Le Guin, The Guardian
“Incandescent . . . brilliant, ambitious . . . Before the arrival of his latest novel, Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights, Rushdie’s stature as one of the major literary voices of our time was already secure. And yet, in reading this new book, one cannot escape the feeling that all those years of writing and success have perhaps been preparation for this moment, for the creation of this tremendously inventive and timely novel.”—San Francisco Chronicle
“A wicked bit of satire . . . [Rushdie] riffs and expands on the tales of Scheherazade, another storyteller whose spinning of yarns was a matter of life and death.”—USA Today
“In these nested, swirling tales, Rushdie conjures up a whole universe of jinn slithering across time and space, meddling in human affairs and copulating like they’ve just been released from twenty years in a lamp. . . . Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights translates the bloody upheavals of our last few decades into the comic-book antics of warring jinn wielding bolts of fire, mystical transmutations and rhyming battle spells.”—The Washington Post
“Great fun . . . The novel shines brightest in the panache of its unfolding, the electric grace and nimble eloquence and extraordinary range and layering of his voice.”—The Boston Globe
“Courageous and liberating . . . a breathless mash-up of wormholes, mythical creatures, current affairs and disquisitions on philosophy and theology.”—The New York Times Book Review
“This is Rushdie’s first [novel] for adults since 2008, and he seems to be having fun with the adult content. He works in jokes about the sexual appetites of his jinn, brings alive dark corners of Manhattan, explores misplaced love, and creates a good-versus-evil battle that’s firmly grounded in philosophy. . . . Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights is erudite without flaunting it, an amusement park of a pulpy disaster novel that resists flying out of control by being grounded by religion, history, culture and love.”—Los Angeles Times
“[A] rambunctious, satirical, and bewitching metaphysical fable, perhaps his most thoroughly enjoyable to date. At once a scholar, rigorous observer, and lavishly imaginative novelist, Rushdie channels his well-informed despair over the brutality and absurdity of human life into works of fantasy. . . . Rushdie is having wickedly wise fun here. Every character has a keenly hilarious backstory, and the action (flying carpets and urns, gigantic attacking serpents, lightning strikes, to-the-death combat, sex) surges from drastic and pulse-raising to exuberantly madcap, magical, and genuinely emotional. . . . [A] fantastically inventive, spirited, astute, and delectable update of One Thousand and One Nights.”—Booklist (starred review)
“A boisterous novel of ideas, a spirited manifesto for reason disguised as a tale of a jinn war lasting exactly two years, eight months and twenty-eight nights, or 1,001 nights . . . What results is hallmark Rushdie: a composite of magic realism, mythology, science fiction and straight-up fantasy. . . . Like the best Rushdie novels, Two Years is playful and inventive, and also intellectually bracing.”—The Globe and Mail
“One of his very best books, one whose governing metaphor can be about many terrible truths indeed . . . a sometimes archly elegant, sometimes slightly goofy fairy tale—with a character named Bento V. Elfenbein, how could it be entirely serious?—for grown-ups . . . Beguiling and astonishing, wonderful and wondrous. Rushdie at his best.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“A comic novel about Medieval Islamic philosophy, fairies and the near end of the world may sound difficult. Rushdie’s brilliance is in the balance between high art and pop culture. . . . This is a novel of both intellectual heft and sheer reading pleasure—a rare feat.”—St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“There are monsters who slip through wormholes, or slits between worlds; there are battles and set pieces, in Fairyland and on Earth; there are sometimes ridiculous, sometimes hilarious comic turns; stories within stories; riddles within tales within legends. And there is Salman Rushdie, manic Scheherazade, assuming all the voices, playing all the parts, making a mad kind of sense of it all.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune
“The title adds up to 1,001 nights, an allusion to the story of Scheherazade, and although there are not 1,001 strands of story here, there are many, and they are colourful and compelling. . . . Rushdie displays the wry humour that helped make Midnight’s Children such a masterpiece.”—The Independent
“Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights is replete with fantastical creatures, scary monsters, very bad men (or rather, male jinns/genies) and one heroic woman. . . . While Rushdie has written hyped up sagas of worlds colliding before, and always espouses reason over fanaticism, there is something so loopy, so unleashed, about this tale as to make it particularly thrilling.”—New York Daily News
“In his latest novel, Rushdie invents his own cultural narrative—one that blends elements of One Thousand and One Nights, Homeric epics, and sci-fi and action/adventure comic books. . . . Referencing Henry James, Mel Brooks, Mickey Mouse, Gracian, Bravo TV, and Aristotle, among others, Rushdie provides readers with an intellectual treasure chest cleverly disguised as a comic pop-culture apocalyptic caprice.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
From the Hardcover edition.
About the Author
Salman Rushdie is the author of eleven previous novels—Grimus, Midnight’s Children (for which he won the Booker Prize and the Best of the Booker), Shame, The Satanic Verses, Haroun and the Sea of Stories, The Moor’s Last Sigh, The Ground Beneath Her Feet, Fury, Shalimar the Clown, The Enchantress of Florence, and Luka and the Fire of Life—and one collection of short stories: East, West. He has also published four works of nonfiction—Joseph Anton, The Jaguar Smile, Imaginary Homelands, and Step Across This Line—and co-edited two anthologies, Mirrorwork and Best American Short Stories 2008. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and a Distinguished Writer in Residence at New York University. A former president of PEN American Center, Rushdie was knighted in 2007 for services to literature.
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The title, as Rushdie makes clear, comes from the actual time it takes for 1001 nights to pass. As this is a story of the return of jinni back into our modern world and a war that lasts 1001 nights, the connection is appropriate. Told from the future as a history of our time, four dark (male) jinni wreak havoc on the world while one (female) jinnia tries to defend it along with some of her many half-human descendants. (She was once the wife of the medieval philosopher Ibn Rushd and bore him many children.)
It is a fun idea and there are some great moments in this book. The images of humans starting to float off the ground in defiance of gravity, comic book characters coming to life, and suburban estates being the sites of great battles are wonderful. Many quirky characters, both human and jinn, populate these pages. The problem is, as often seems to be the case with these shorter novels, that Rushdie novels are so heavily populated with characters and events that few of the characters seem to get there full due. Dunia, the jinnia, and Geronimo, her gardener descendant, come across with some depth, but so many other interesting characters seem to get only a passing glance. It’s too bad, when Rushdie manages to be so inventive with them.
I don’t know what has made Rushdie abandon his longer work for these shorter novels. They seem to require a skill set that his not in his wheelhouse; namely, cutting back on the characters and narrowing to a more focused through-line. I still enjoy reading them, but I am anxious for him to produce a novel on the scale of his earlier work. This seems to be where his greatest powers as a novelist lie.
I'll never stop admiring Mr. Rushdie for his undeniable talent, and I'll reread my favorites - but, pedestrian concept though it may be, I do believe a plot is important in a novel of any length.
Imagine waking up one morning and finding out you are now walking inches, then many feet off the ground with no power to change the condition while you rise to the upper atmosphere and will ultimately die of oxygen starvation if you don't freeze to death before. How about the world as we know it washes away in a storm of biblical proportions creating survival anxiety in the worlds entire population, that is if you are one of the survivors left to pick up the pieces. All of this while being attacked on all sides by malignant and powerful genies out to kill all humans.
Yet some live to fight the onslaught and become legends a thousand years in the future.
This is a page turner, hang on and enjoy the ride.
but this book really disappointed me. The story starts quite well and engaging, with a dramatic conflict between 2 philosophers: Ibn Rushd and Ghazali. But that is the only good part! After that, we move on to other broken and confusing episodes throughout the book. The book lacks creativity and most importantly: solid structure!
Although Salman tries to keep the episodes connected to each other by the idea of Jinni, it just fails. I pushed myself and read 25% of the book, but then it was impossible to complete it. It was boring and simply meaningless.
I do not recommend this book to Salman fans.