The satanic verses

by Salman Rushdie

Paper Book, 2006

Status

Available

Genres

Publication

London : Vintage Books, 2006.

Description

Gibreel Farishta, India's legendary movie star, and Saladin Chamcha, the man of a thousand voices, fall earthward from a bombed jet toward the sea, singing rival verses in an eternal wrestling match between good and evil.

Media reviews

Talent? Not in question. Big talent. Ambition? Boundless ambition. Salman Rushdie is a storyteller of prodigious powers, able to conjure up whole geographies, causalities, climates, creatures, customs, out of thin air. Yet, in the end, what have we? As a display of narrative energy and wealth of invention, ''The Satanic Verses'' is impressive. As a sustained exploration of the human condition, it flies apart into delirium.
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wikipedia
The Satanic Verses is Salman Rushdie's fourth novel, first published in 1988 and inspired in part by the life of Muhammad. 192.168.0.1
NHK
Los Versos Satánicos; Novela 1988, Conj de Editoriales Españolas 1989; Salman Rushide; India - Inglaterra.

Hasta las personas que no leen habrán escuchado hablar alguna vez de este libro y/o de su autor; yo era uno de aquellos a finales de los 80’s. Cuando empezé a leer en el ‘94 sabía que éste sería uno de esos libros que leería alguna vez. No recuerdo haberlo visto y dejado pasar: simplemente no lo encontraba, pero tampoco lo buscaba. Y ahora, caminando por una librería de segunda mano lo encontré en primera edición española, en buen estado y a un precio razonable: y habían 2 ejemplares. Para los fanáticos islámicos es blasfemo desde que el Ayatolá Jomeini sentenciara una fatwa en febrero del ‘89 condenando a muerte a Rushdie por escribir tal obra. Vamos al libro:
De sus 9 capítulos sólo la parte 1 del Cap 1 me pareció la más difícil de digerir: la conversa y pensamientos de los hindúes-musulmanos Gibreel Farishta y Saladim Chamcha durante la caída en la explosíon del avión sobre Londres.
En esta primera historia lo interesante es la metamorfosis que se da con la sobrevivencia y renacimiento: Farishta en el Arcángel Gabriel, con aureola y todo, y Chamcha en Shaitan, con pequeños cuernos naciendo de sus sienes, y poseedor de un aliento sulfúrico. En capítulos posteriores la descripción de la metamorfosis del segundo, acostumbrándose a su nueva condición de macho cabrío es magistral.: mucha ironía y humor negro en esos capítulos.
Farishta, actor e ídolo del cine hindúe, y Chamcha, el hombre de las mil y una voces, que se abrió paso haciendo comerciales de tv, ganándose de a pocos un lugar en esa misma indústria, anglófilo, y desencantado de su fé y su cultura, adoptando como suya la inglesa (quizá el alter ego de Rushidie). Luego de caer en la playa londinense Chamcha, en plena metamorfosis, es arrestado y ultrajado por la policía inglesa en el apartamento de Rosa Diamond, mientras que Farishta , vestido con ropas del difunto esposo de ésta es hasta respetado por los mismos policías, sin necesidad de mencionar palabra alguna. Ahí hay un primer punto de quiebre: el angélico guarda silencio mientras ve como su amigo es arrestado y clamándole que cuente a sus captores lo ocurrido, mientras que el diabólico es maltratado, humillado y arrestado injustamente, sin darle la mínima opción de defenderse, ni escucharlo, de decirles que él es uno de los dos únicos sobrevivientes de la explosión de avión.
La segunda historia: Ayesha, la bella joven con su nube de mariposas amarillas que la siguen por donde vaya, que influenciada en sueños por el arcángel Gabriel inicia un recorrido convenciendo a todo un pueblo ir hacia la Meca en una peregrinación bíblica. Aquí también las historias de Mishal, y su esposo Mizra Saed con su ateísmo, tratando de disuadir a su mujer enferma en no escuchar las palabras de Ayesha rinden grandes páginas del libro.
La tercera historia es sobre Mahound (se supone que es Mahoma), el comerciante que se convierte en profeta, quien inicia una religión en un desértico pueblo, Jahilia, y, quien inspirado por el Arcángel Gabriel quien le hablaba en sueños en el Monte Cone incluye unos versos dictados por él, pero luego cree que quien le recitó esos versos fue Shaitan. Rushidie hace ver que ni de Shaitan, ni del arcángel salieron aquellos versos, tan solo de la cabeza de Mahound. Esta historia es corta y una de las menos interesantes en comparación con las dos primeras, pero es la que debe haber iniciado la ira del Ayatolá Jomeini.
Todo un clásico de la literatura contemporánea. Imprescindible

User reviews

LibraryThing member siafl
After two visits to the library and four renewals I abandoned trying to finish reading The Satanic Verses. At the time of abandonment I had yet to reach the halfway point.

The book is packed with great moments of brilliance not unlike the kind produced by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, one of my favourite writers, which was why I decided to give Rushdie's work a try. It gets tiring, however, after a while, as if I've been visiting a long-winded grandpa full of interesting stories, but at the end of the day it's just time to shut my listening ears and return to reality.

I must also admit that part of the reason I wanted to read The Satanic Verses was my curiosity as to how Rushdie managed to get himself into the kind of trouble he got with this book. Now as much contribution to the literary world as people seem to think this book has, I am not sure that it warrants the effort nor the consequences that has been suffered because of its existence.
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LibraryThing member Niecierpek
I’ve had The Satanic Verses since 1988, right after it was published and a bit before it caused all the fuss. I loved The Midnight Children and expected something equally enjoyable then. Well, I did not make it past the first sixty pages on the first reading, and neither was I successful on my second try after all the hell had broken loose. Now, over twenty years later I picked it up again after reading Infidel by Ayan Hirsi Ali, as her story reminded me how dangerous it is to write a book that can be perceived critical of Islam.

It read much better now. It seems that I have matured into it- age and experience have their advantages after all. I know more about Islam and am possibly more used to novels of ideas with multiple plots and twists and turns. And, a novel of ideas it definitely is. It’s all about identities we have and we assume. It plays quite a bit with the idea of good and evil: What is the nature of evil, how it's born, why it grows, how it takes unilateral possession of a many sided soul, to use Rushdie’s words. The roles we take can make us good or evil as well. Interestingly enough, even being an immigrant is a bit like being Satan himself, as we learn from the dedication. Chamcha, one of the main characters, becomes evil by the sheer fact that he chooses to become an immigrant. Through this he falsifies his past, willingly reinvents himself, becomes false and hence 'evil'. At least until he comes back to the source again where and when it seems his fortune turns and he becomes good again.

By the same token, a religious leader can be good or evil as well. Since religion is based on faith and not on tangible and testable facts, we can’t be sure where religious revelation comes from, or what its real nature is. Rushdie plays with that idea quite a bit and opens it up to some interesting interpretations. Religion can be used for selfish, opportunistic purposes especially when we can’t really be sure if the source of the revelation is divine. Prophets and spiritual leaders may be spurred on by wrong impulses as hunger for power or opportunism. And even if the revelation comes from the divine, God himself, as we meet him in the book, is not a confidence inspiring being.

The novel is brilliant in places and I have enjoyed most of it, but having said so, I must admit that it somehow suffers from lack of focus. My feeling is that Rushdie is trying to comment on too many things at the same time: it’s not only religion that he tackles, but the nature of show business (all these actors who assume multiple personalities as well) angels and demons (two sides of the same personality, perhaps), multiple consciousnesses and different planes of existence permeating each other, racism and mountaineering (above good and evil?), nature of miracles and contemporary politics. It’s all a bit too much and the center point is lost- at least to me.
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LibraryThing member Sarij
Salman Rushdie was a relatively unknown writer when The Satanic Verses was published. Though his second novel Midnight’s Children won him an award, most American’s were unaware of Rushdie’s talent. What put Rushdie on the literary map was the death sentence the Ayatollah Khomeini handed down because of The Satanic Verses.
I was not sure what I was getting into when I picked up the book. I know the story behind the title. It is written that Mohammad recited some controversal law given to him by the Archangel Gabriel. When it became apparent these new laws angered both his followers and retractors Mohammad questioned Gabriel about them. Gabriel told Mohamed the devil had desquised himself as Gabriel and lied to bring confusion to Mohammad’s people. These verses were struck from the “books” and are known as The Satanic Verses. So from the title I knew I was reading lies.
The story centers around two Indian men both whom live “lies”. One is a big Indian movie star named Gibreel (though as a child his mother called him Shaten) who always plays Indian deities. The other named Saladin (whose name resembles the author’s enough to not go unnoticed) who left India for England to get away from the Indian way of life. Saladin considers himself British and not at all Indian.
The two meet on a plane heading to London from Bombay. Gibreel is running away from his life because of a woman, while Saladin is returning to London after visiting his dying father in Bombay. Terrorist take over the plane, and after letting all of the women and children go, they demand to be flown to England. During the flight the plane is blown up. Gibreel and Salidin find themselves falling through a cloud like tunnel, and miraculously fall onto an English beach. The fall has mutated the two; Gibreel develops a halo while Salidin turns into a goat like creature, not unlike the classic pictures of Satan.
What follows are stories within the story, which is way the book is so long. Gibreel finds he is drawn into other people’s dreams that in turn affect the person’s life. One story within this book is the story of Mohammad and Gabriel which must be why The Ayatollah went off. Mohammed is not to be portrayed in any medium. Changing Mohammad’s name did not change his story though, so again this is why Rushdie was in so much trouble.
The bigger story is of self realization and acceptance of one’s own life. Saladin must come to grips with his Indian background and accept “his people” . He also had to learn to express his feelings. Once he did all of this he was able to become human again. It really was his story, Gibreel was really just a catalyst for his adventure, as Gibreel was for everyone else in the book.
What I really liked about the novel was Rushdie’s use of Irony and Satire. The archangel Gabriel is an avenging angel but Gibreel is a revenging angel. Everywhere Gibreel goes revenge and death follow (except for the story of Mohammad). Salidin becomes human when he allows his feelings to show. In the end it is up to Salidin to avenge those who have been hurt by Gibreel. Though it is a long book it is well worth the time as Rushdie is a master at story telling. If you like deeper/hidden meanings in books and love characters that stay with you for a long time this is a book not to be missed.
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LibraryThing member plenilune
An epic novel of good & evil, life & death, country & empire, belief, love, god, etc. This is a slow read with a fast pace, with the feel of a classic. You will have to invest a lot of time reading this (I consider myself a fast reader and it took me 3 weeks) but it's worth it.
LibraryThing member poetontheone
Rushdie's novel is a dense patchwork of satire and cultural criticism abound with so many references that I am certain the large majority of them eluded me. This book provokes a bevy of emotions. One minute you are laughing, the next you are frowning, and the next you are scratching your head in either a state of dumbstruck stupor or disbelief. That is only to be expected with a work that deftly combines magical realism, along with postmodern and postcolonial literary traditions. In a truly postmodern way, Rushdie borrows techniques from Nabokov and Borges. He tells stories both ancient and modern, and interweaves them in a somewhat loose but effective way. He cooks up a strange potpourri of allusion and illusion, a fresh mythology. This is a fever dream of cultural upheaval. He tackles the question of the tumultuous convergence of East and West while all the more digging into the internal discordance of man, and how this man utilizes his capabilities for good or ill. Tanizaki and Nabokov have done the same, but never with their tongue lodged this far in their cheek, never so mischievously, and perhaps never so thoroughly. A serious book that doesn't take itself too seriously.… (more)
LibraryThing member lriley
For the life of me I've never really understood what all the fuss was about. In the Rushdie canon of works it takes center stage because of the Fatwa put out by the Ayatollah Khomeini supposedly due to its depiction of the Prophet Mohammed and the origins of Islam. Religious fundamentalism comes in many stripes I suppose. It's not like we don't have our own practitioners such as Mr. Robertson who pretty much called for the assassination of Hugo Chavez the leader of Venezuela. Are any of these Men of God? I guess if you say so. Anyway this is not in my opinion one of Mr. Rushdie's better books. In some respects I think he's a little overrated. If I were to choose something better that he has done it would be 'The Moor's last sigh'. I've heard good things about 'Midnight's Children' which won the Booker prize but as of yet I have not read it. The Satanic Verses is almost like a hallucination moving backward and forward in time and revolving around a pair of twin brothers and the different worlds they are to be raised in and the hostility those two worlds have towards each other inform the plot. There are elements of magical realism at work and although I'm a fan of a lot of South American fiction--the homefield of magical realism I am not necessarily the biggest fan of that approach so for what it's worth--read it or don't read it that is up to you but ignore the ignorant and leave Mr. Rushdie to live and write in peace.… (more)
LibraryThing member veevoxvoom
I thought this book was a masterpiece. There are few books, masterpieces or no, with as much life as this one, as much taste and sound and texture. Rushdie writes in a style and league of his own, with every sentence carrying hills of meaning, with every image and metaphor grandly realized. This book is famous for causing a lot of controversy in the Islamic community, but that's not why you should read it. You should read it because it's Great Literature.

The Satanic Verses starts with two Indian men, Gibreel Farishta and Saladin Chamcha, who are involved in a plane crash to England that changes Gibreel into an angel and Saladin into a devil. With this basic premise, Rushdie spins a tale about race, religion, morality, language, and the immigrant experience. Things shift in his writing, things change, things morph into other things, bright and shining. There are just so many questions asked in this book that I couldn't keep track of them all, and yet it's not just a book of ideas with characters that only serve to drive the plot along; the characters are rich and their voices are as clear as their stories. Rushdie is a master of the craft, and even though he writes in very specific British-Indian-Islamic context, his story touches upon issues that are universal.
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LibraryThing member the_awesome_opossum
The Satanic Verses is about the lives of Gibreel Farishta and Saladin Chamcha, who are transformed into good and evil incarnate after a terrorist attack. Salman Rushdie analyzes the extremism and absolutism of religion against the uncertainty of secular morality. Most of the story is set in India, and concerns the tensions between Muslims and Hindus there, but the book also paints a vibrant portrayal of the culture as a whole. There's a huge cast of characters and vast plotlines to follow, so it made for a very impressive bit of storytelling by Rushdie.… (more)
LibraryThing member CymLowell
I have wanted to read and think about this insightful book for many years. It caused an uproar in the Islamic world, including a fatwa death sentence for the author. I always wondered why? How can a story about other prophets cause an uproar amongst their followers?

To me, the story line essentially chronicles the journey of the prophet in the walk around world. In many senses, The Satanic Verses is similar in nature to other journey books which seem intended to allow the reader (and the author, of course) to explore the conscious and subconscious of the heroes. I enjoyed reading Siddhartha by Herman Hess, The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo, The Iliyad and the Odyssey by Homer, and many others. In each, the hero embarks upon a journey of self-discovery, danger, ecstacy, and fate. Often the results of the journey, successful or otherwise, seem to me to largely be a matter of serendipity. In Siddhartha, the rich Indian boy found his peace in ferrying pilgrims across the river close to his original home. In The Alchemist, the shepard boy found his treasure in Fatima at the oasis. How can one account for the joy these young men ultimately found in simplicity?

It is up to the reader to find meaning in any story, including especially its meaning in his or her own life.

I think such stories are successful if they trigger introspection in the reader. How is my life or journey similar to the hero’s? What can I learn from this hero’s journey to guide me in my life. If there is deep religious connotation, or comment, do I agree with the views communicated by the author and the protagonists?

The Satanic Verses is at once allegorical, satirical, whimsical, and oftentimes, to me, far less penetrable in any conventional sense than most of the books we read on a day-to-day basis. Like reading James Joyce, the twists and turns of the narrative require focus and abstract thought. In this regard, I was reminded of my long read of Raintree County by Ross Lockridge, Jr., an allegorical story of my childhood home in Indiana. It took me awhile to get through the 1,500 pages. When I was done I had discovered what I was looking for in those pages. Frankly, I enjoyed the introspection.

In the case of Satanic Verses, my wait was worthwhile. Mr. Rushdie has a wonderful capacity for inducing self-examination. His fine work has earned the rave reviews that it has gotten for the many years since its original publication. It is far more complex than such stories as The Alchemist, yet it is the complexity that provides such rich texture.

From a cultural perspective, I found it a far more difficult struggle to engage the hero in The Satanic Verses, than in Siddhartha written by a German or The Alchemist written by a Latin.

As with any great book, the re-reading after a passage of time will bring even greater insight. I look forward to that time as well.
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LibraryThing member AltheaAnn
I'd been curious about this book for quite a while, obviously because of the publicity and controversy surrounding it.
My opinion: it's good. But it's certainly not worth dying for. (As a translator already has, and two others have barley survived assassination attempts).
Interestingly, the main focus of the book is not on religion, although it plays a part.
Mostly, I would say the book is about the experience of Indian - British immigrants. Rushdie explores the psychological conflicts through a story of two Indian men, both average, but one who's really rather a self-centered jerk. Falling from a plane which was victim to a terrorist attack, the two miraculously survive, but one becomes a sort of avatar of an angel, and one of a devil. Intertingly, the roles are reversed - the more 'decent' guy becomes the devil, growing horns, and the self-centered film star developing a halo.
In exploring these identities, especially that of the archangel Gibreel in Islamic mythology, is where Rushdie moves into supposedly 'blasphemous' territory, including a historical depiction of Mohammed, and a strong implication by the Prophet's personal scribe that he is a fraud, making up religious rules to suit his whims. There's also a funny, satirical episode where a brothel decides to make more money by having their whores role-play the parts of the Prophet's wives.
I suspect that Rushdie underestimated the response these scenes would get. It's pretty clear from the book that Rushdie is probably an atheist. But it's also very clear that the scenes in question are satire. They're almost incidental to the main plot of the book (which takes place in the present day), and also to the main
idea of the book, which has to do with the concepts of "Indian-ness" and "British-ness" and personal identity.
I'd say the novel is definitely worthwhile for its insights into human nature, but it does have a tendency to meander, and the colloquial language that Rushdie uses can occasionally come across as a bit too 'clever.'
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LibraryThing member bednigo
The Satanic Verses occasionally ventures into the fantastic as many of Rushdie's other works, it doesn't do enough with those fantastical moments to be as gripping as those other works. Though clearly carefully crafted with symbolism and parallels abounding, the story progresses slowly and often seems to feel like drudging through until it picks up again. An interesting read but not necessarily the enthralling read I've come to expect of Rushdie.… (more)
LibraryThing member fiverivers
A great deal has been written since 1988 about Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses, which, aside from the obvious sensationalism regarding the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s fatwa, much of the commentary has been academic and speculative in nature. Pundits discuss Rushdie’s penchant for migrant alienation, and use of magic realism. Others wax poetic regarding Rushdie’s ability to weave political and spiritual themes together into a literary melange, while others state unequivocally The Satanic Verses is a metaphor of the prophet Muhammad’s life.

I do not claim to be an academic titan. Nor do I claim to be a spiritual guru. What I am is an avid reader who relishes literary provocation. Salman Rushdie has done just that. Provoked me. And allowed me epiphany.

My journey with Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses began in October. Only this morning (December 27) have I finished this epic work. And upon closing the black, cloth cover I smiled, experiencing a sense of literary completion and edification I have not known in many, many years. Was this an easy journey? No. Reading Rushdie’s novel is not for the faint of heart. The language is dense, rich, much of it in stream-of-consciousness and an Indian patois, and in fact one memorable sentence, which left me breathless, I realized upon review was one entire page long.

I was constantly amazed Rushdie took all grammatical landmarks and demolished them, using language, metaphor and simile to create tension, dream-state and yet still remain highly communicative. I am ashamed to say as an editor and publisher, had this manuscript come across my desk I would likely have returned it to the author after the first few pages. Yet I wonder if I would indeed have done just that, because I kept reading the novel after the first few pages, not because it was Rushdie (I have closed a book before on well-respected authors), but because there was something of mystery in what he presented.

What is The Satanic Verses about? Only Rushdie himself can honestly and accurately answer that question. What I took away from this gigantic work is indeed what the pundits have made commentary, but as well I found a simple allegorical tale of mankind’s inner journey to understand what it is to be human and whole. Rushdie himself writes in the voice of Chamcha that the Satanic verses (doggerel to torment his counterpart Farishta) were his own sin and regret, and that because of his inability to curtail his own inner demons he fed Farishta’s madness and thereby responsible for Farishta’s ultimate undoing.

I will look forward to reading The Satanic Verses again in a year or two. It is a novel and a pilgrimage worth revisiting, and one I am honoured to have as part of the foundation our personal library.
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LibraryThing member Devil_llama
A master of surrealism. Easy to read in spite of the length, but with some quirks that point clearly to the author's iconoclasm not only in religion, but in writing. Few writers would be able to get away with a sentence of over 50 words, but somehow in this book, it worked. The imagery is strange, sometimes beautiful, and sometimes frightful. It would be fabulous to see someone do this as a movie, but given the fatwa the author has lived under for so long, it's unlikely anyone will ever dare.… (more)
LibraryThing member Fips
This isn't a book that requires any introduction, at least in terms of the furore and controversy surrounding it. I'd probably heard of Rushdie before I started to read for myself, such is the reputation which precedes this book. The title has been sitting at the back of my mind for a long time, so when I saw it on a bookshelf figured it was about time to dip into it.

Some years ago, whilst taking part in a brief course on the history of modern India, I picked up Rushdie's Midnight's Children and thoroughly enjoyed it. The style was lucid, inspiring, at times witty, the plot meaningful, its events engaging and powerfully written. Unfortunately, The Satanic Verses is in comparison an utter disappointment. The book is simply difficult to like, try as one might. Rushdie's writing, despite still being very imaginative, colourful, even amusing, is for the most part unnecessarily convoluted. The book's plot is divided into various threads spanning time, space and reality, with enough levels, characters and subplots that the reader has to pay extreme attention not to become lost. Some of the characters go under different names, or names are shared among different characters, while the main characters undergo enough physical alterations, that trying to juggle the figures in your imagination becomes a feat in and of itself.

Written style aside, should you find yourself able to understand Rushdie's message – and thanks to the written style it's easy not to 'get' – I simply can't find very much worth recommending. If you are looking for examples of novels centred on the interplay of good and evil, issues of identity or multiculturalism, the parody of religion, or even merely novels featuring magic realism, there are simply so many better, easier, and more enjoyable works available, even from Rushdie's own pen, that this work wouldn't get a look in.

As other reviewers have said, were it not for the fatwa this book should probably have disappeared off most people's radars without much word of comment. That it didn't is unfortunate, since I don't think this book particularly lends itself to many people, yet so many pick it up to find out what all the fuss was about. It is a frustrating and convoluted read, and while there are beautiful and intriguing passages which reminded me of what made Midnight's Children so enthralling, these are ultimately pretty small fish for sieving through 500 other pages of nigh-on impenetrable packaging.
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LibraryThing member furthur66
It only took me three years, on and off, but I finallly finished this book. The relief of no longer having an unfinished book hanging over my shoulders has kind of had a smothering effect on my acutal feelings toward the book, but I'll do my best. I'm not sure if it was the length, my stopping and starting or my unfamiliarity with Islamic tradition, but I found the book at times dense and hard to follow. Other parts I found beautiful and enriching and captivating. I'm glad I read this for its societal and historical implications, but I certainly can't say it was one of my favorites.

It follows Gibreel Farishta - an Indian moviestar - and Chamcha Saladin - an expatriat attempting to lose his cultural identity in England. Both inexplicably survive a mid-air plane explosion and drift down to the beaches of England to slowly discover that they have respectively been changed into an archangel and the devil incarnate. From here the novel weaves into the plot a complicated series of events including Gibreel's dreams of the seeming origens of Islam, modern societal uproar, and a constantly flip-flopping struggle between good and evil.
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LibraryThing member kvyar
It was several years ago that I read this book, so I won't write about it at length. The only comment I would like to make is that the publicity surrounding this novel is unfortunate, because it probably isn't the best place to start reading Rushdie. Although I count his earlier Midnight's Children among my favorite novels, I didn't enjoy this book very much. My feeling wasn't so much that it was poorly written as that I didn't understand it. I do have acquaintances who loved it, so I'm not suggesting that it doesn't deserve to be read, only that it shouldn't be taken as an exemplar of all Salman Rushdie's work.… (more)
LibraryThing member vegetrendian
An incredible book that is famous for all the wrong reasons. The story of two men (Gibreel Farishta and Sallahudin Chamchawalla) who we first meet as they are falling from a Himalayan height, from what we soon learn is an exploded aircraft. They float smoothly to the ground and soon begin to notice some slight changes (horns and cloven hoofs, an angelic glow from behind the crown of the head). The book then explores a variety of issues including racism, colonialism (it is the man in the bowler hat who begins to turn into the devil of course), sense of place and identity, the history of Islam (which is where the trouble began), and a huge number of other issues that I am forgetting about or went over my head entirely during my four readings of the book. But no matter how much I miss there is always enough writing that is so incomparably beautiful that it just doesn't matter. Rushdie is a master of the language and he treats it playfully, constantly using puns, and word games which gives the book a modernity and a sense of humour usually lacking from other literary classics (and yes this is, already, a classic).

Ignore all the hype about the offensive passages, and do what very few of those who condemned, banned, and burned it did; read it.
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LibraryThing member melydia
This is a very strange story that took me a very long time to read. In a nutshell, it is about Gibreel Farishta, a famous Indian movie star who may or may not be turning into the archangel Gabriel, and Saladin Chamcha, an Indian voice actor living in London who may or may not be turning into Satan. Much of the book is also devoted to the story-within-a-story of Gibreel's dreams, which take place in numerous locations and time periods. There is a much discussion of religion, politics, and society without taking a clear stance on anything. The story begins with Gibreel and Saladin falling through the air after the airplane they were on was blown up by terrorists, so you know it's going to be one trippy experience.I have pretty mixed feelings about this one. The story was reasonably satisfying, but I think I would have gotten a lot more out of it were I more familiar with the Qu'ran and Indian society. It was also a bit difficult to get into because of the writing style: Rushdie displayed a fondness for overly long, run-on sentences and a disdain for paragraph breaks, especially where dialogue is concerned. The primary reason I finished this book at all is because I read somewhere that it is one of the most commonly started-but-not-finished books of all time (though how that is measured is beyond me). This isn't a very good reason to read a book, especially one you know you are not fully understanding. I wouldn't say it was a waste of time - I enjoyed some of the characters, especially the maddening Gibreel - but I do believe there are other books I would have enjoyed more during the month it took me to finish reading this one.… (more)
LibraryThing member gazzy
Fantastic story of two men undergoing slow physical transformations into what looks like an angel and devil. Actually two stories at once, it follows the characters and the points of view through england and bollywood. Author himself is muslim and in ironic fate sought in this novel to address, thus heal, the rift between Islam and India.… (more)
LibraryThing member ablueidol
Imaginative and his use of language brilliant. But over complicated plot and confused changes in points of view as the action shifts among his characters and their changing states of consciousness. Struggled to read it as brought by wife for a Christmas present. Lets face it but for the publicity dream of the fatwa would you have brought it or even heard of it?… (more)
LibraryThing member sunnyd13
It's been a few years since I read this, and I'm having a hard time remembering it. Definitely did not have the impact of Midnight's Children.
LibraryThing member elonole
Momma Ragans to read and review... please add your own.
LibraryThing member mynote
The book is an oriental fairy tale for adults, a post-modern flight of fancy Salman in Wonderland tale, with its characters nose-diving into strange worlds of illogic imagination and outrage. Its difficult to see why it provoked so much rage and hatred. It seemed to me a self-consciously worthy obtuse artistic exercise and something like Finnegans Wake, significantly unreadable. Perhaps the anger was directed at something I missed out on, although I suspect it didn't need more than the title to stir intolerance and that anyone capable of getting to grips with the text and finishing it has too much patience and empathy to start burning books or people. For my part I found it difficult to suspend my disbelief right up to the end..… (more)
LibraryThing member Pincololo
Not the best of Rushdie, but a very good read
LibraryThing member gbill
I was intrigued in the first couple of chapters and there were sections throughout the book that I liked, but it never came together for me. It was a jumble and in the places where Rushdie did try to tie it together, it was a bit confusing or contrived. The story lines for Saladin and Gibreel, the two main characters, bogged down and were uninteresting by the middle of the book, and the ending was a mess.

There was a lot of fuss about this book which I suspect is the main reason it became so successful, and I confess the chapters I liked the most were 2 and 6, which focused on Mohammed and the "early days" of Islam. I liken those parts to other books which tell of religious figures in an alternate way, e.g. "The Last Temptation of Christ", which make one think about it in a different way, and point out hypocrisy. I do think it's unfortunate that Rushdie used the name "Mahound" and was incendiary, but maybe that comes along with the package. The book would have been far better had it been more cohesive and focused.
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