Saturday, June 30, 2007

LAST TBR Review: Shalimar the Clown by Salman Rushdie

Well, folks, I'm done with the 2007 TBR challenge. I know that I'm supposed to read one book a month, but I'm trying to get done with my other challenges before the challenge I'm hosting, Something About Me, starts on August 1.

Of course I've heard of Salman Rushdie. I remember vaguely the flap about the book Satanic Verses, back when I was in high school. It all sounded so political, so Islamic..? Back then I was ignorant, but I carried with me this idea that his books would be tome-like, too intellectual, above me somehow. So I never read that, or any other of his books.

When Shalimar the Clown came out and I read the reviews, I thought "well, maybe I should try reading Rushdie after all". I'm so glad I did. This is just the type of book that I like. Education and insight into another culture and country (in this case Kashmir) without feeling like you are being educated. In other words, Rushdie is a master at educating the reader about the conflicted region of Kashmir, while weaving it into the storyline in a way that is entertaining and masterful.

This book has it all: love, revenge, politics, culture. Read it, oh do. Here's a sample passage that I like:

For Shalimar the clown the total abnegation of the self was a more problematic requirement, a sticking place. He was, he wanted to be, a part of the holy war, but he also had private matters to attend to, personal oaths to fulfill. At night his wife's face filled his thoughts, her face and behind hers the face of the American. To let go of himself would be to let go of them as well; and he found that he could not order his heart to set his body free.

9 comments:

Literary Feline said...

This book does sound like a good one. Thanks for the great review. And congratulations on finishing the TBR Challenge!

Trish said...

The only book I've read by Rushdie is Midnight's Children (which I loved!). I own Satanic Versus, but its a biggie, so I think I'll let it sit with the other TBRs for a while. This one sounds great--I love learning about other cultures (Midnight's Children revolves a lot about the "birth" of India--I highly recommend). Thanks for coming by earlier.

Matt said...

I've read a couple of Rushdie's books. I really enjoyed Midnight's Children and I've also read Fury. I would like to read Satanic Verses as well. I've actually heard that Shalimar the Clown is one of his weaker novels so if you liked it you would probably like his others too.

kookiejar said...

I think a lot of people who read literary novels are turned off by the idea of reading Rushdie for exactly the reason you stated. I have several of his books waiting for me on my TBR a (and I think I'm doing one for a challenge *I forget*), I'm looking forward to reading them.

jay are said...

this sounds good---I've never tried to read him either, for the same reasons.

On a different note, did you know that Lisa See--who wrote Secret Flower--has a new book out and it sounds every bit as good as her Secret Flower.

Stephanie said...

I've really wanted to read this book! I think Rushdie is one of those authors you either get or you don't! Thanks for the review! And congrats on finishing the TBR already!

LK said...

I figure this or Midnight's Children is going to be the Rushdie I read. And I do want to read him.

Nyssaneala said...

Congrats on finishing the TBR challenge!

I think I was lucky in that I picked up Satanic Verses without knowing anything other than that it was controversial when it came out (I was only 9 when the fatwa was issued against him). I love his books.

3M said...

Congrats on finishing the TBR! I finished recently as well.