Sunday, July 27, 2008

"'To be born again,' sang Gibreel Farishta tumbling from the heavens, 'first you have to die."

I won't kid you. The Satanic Verses is not a quick read. I don't know that any of Salman Rushdie's books are, but this one seemed slow compared even to most of the others. He tends to stack tales and interweave stories through other stories. There isn't a consistent narrative flow through the book. However, each of the tales in this book is engaging. The main characters of the book, Gibreel and Saladin, change in character (and perhaps divine nature) while falling from a plane that has been destroyed in-flight by terrorists. The side tales are based on scenes from the Koran and Gibreel is either dreaming them or participating in them. We don't know which it is and neither does he. The narrator appears to be God and the book uses modified Hindu and Muslim mythologies as the basis for the various plot elements of the story.

I have had this book on the bookshelf for about ten years. I think that T read it when we first bought it. At the time I was reading other Rushdie books and just never remembered to pick up this one but finally I wanted to know what all of the hubbub was about. I would have to go back and read my Koran guide again to know what Rushdie did with the stories that was so blasphemous.

Overall, this is a fantastic book that just takes a while to read. The only complaint I had is one I have with most Rushdie books -- he really likes to kill off a lot of his characters. Even small side characters end up getting the axe. I have wondered if this is his way of gaining a sense of closure. The characters are not going on after the book. Their stories are told. Whatever it is, this is a mind-expanding book that deserves to be read.

Turning the page,

Buy The Satanic Verses on Amazon or find it at your local library.

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