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.
The Satanic Verses
About This Item
Vintage Books Canada
|Number of Pages|
|Assembled Product Dimensions (L x W x H)|
8.02 x 5.15 x 1.25 Inches
I thought this book wa...
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 don't read it for the shock factor. You should read it because it's literature and it offers a glimpse of a world that not many Westerners get to see. 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. I think it is an excellent example of a postcolonial novel in that it celebrates plurality and the confusion of cultural and racial identity. This is reflected in Rushdie's intertexual, playful language. Things shift in his writing, things change, things morph into other things, bright and shining. 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. I myself am an immigrant from a non-Western culture to a Western culture and I saw a lot of what I have gone through in this book.
A great deal has been ...
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.
An epic novel of good ...
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.
I remember hearing abo...
I remember hearing about Salman Rushdie when I was a child, when news of the fatwa first broke. I was quite worried at the time, particularly when people related to the book actually started being killed. I'd always assumed he must be quite a serious writer, as it sounded like a very serious sort of topic with serious implications. It was the first time I remember hearing about a book causing such consternation, and so it's stuck with me ever since. For me, Salman Rushdie has always been that author. And now I've finally read that book. Some part of my childhood presumptions had remained, and so I was surprised to find magical realism, despite the fact I've read other books by Rushdie, and so should have had some idea what to expect. He's quite the storyteller - I enjoy the things he does with language. It's a massive book though, of interwoven timelines and dream sequences, and takes some concentration. Even with concentration I feel I lost so much of what was there. and will need to re-read a few times to come close to full appreciation.
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