The Satanic Verses

The Satanic Verses

by Salman Rushdie

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Overview

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • “[A] torrent of endlessly inventive prose, by turns comic and enraged, embracing life in all its contradictions. In this spectacular novel, verbal pyrotechnics barely outshine its psychological truths.”—Newsday

Winner of the Whitbread Prize

One of the most controversial and acclaimed novels ever written, The Satanic Verses is Salman Rushdie’s best-known and most galvanizing book. Set in a modern world filled with both mayhem and miracles, the story begins with a bang: the terrorist bombing of a London-bound jet in midflight. Two Indian actors of opposing sensibilities fall to earth, transformed into living symbols of what is angelic and evil. This is just the initial act in a magnificent odyssey that seamlessly merges the actual with the imagined. A book whose importance is eclipsed only by its quality, The Satanic Verses is a key work of our times.

Praise for The Satanic Verses

“Rushdie is a storyteller of prodigious powers, able to conjure up whole geographies, causalities, climates, creatures, customs, out of thin air.”The New York Times Book Review

“Exhilarating, populous, loquacious, sometimes hilarious, extraordinary . . . a roller-coaster ride over a vast landscape of the imagination.”The Guardian (London)

“A novel of metamorphoses, hauntings, memories, hallucinations, revelations, advertising jingles, and jokes. Rushdie has the power of description, and we succumb.”The Times (London)

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780812976717
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 03/11/2008
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 561
Sales rank: 72,902
Product dimensions: 5.16(w) x 7.96(h) x 1.27(d)

About the Author

Salman Rushdie is the author of twelve 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, Luka and the Fire of Life, and Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights—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.

Hometown:

New York, New York

Date of Birth:

June 19, 1947

Place of Birth:

Bombay, Maharashtra, India

Education:

M.A. in History, King's College, University of Cambridge

Read an Excerpt

1
 
‘To be born again,’ sang Gibreel Farishta tumbling from the heavens, ‘first you have to die. Ho ji! Ho ji! To land upon the bosomy earth, first one needs to fly. Tat-taa! Taka-thun! How to ever smile again, if first you won’t cry? How to win the darling’s love, mister, without a sigh? Baba, if you want to get born again …’ Just before dawn one winter’s morning, New Year’s Day or thereabouts, two real, full-grown, living men fell from a great height, twenty-nine thousand and two feet, towards the English Channel, without benefit of parachutes or wings, out of a clear sky.
 
‘I tell you, you must die, I tell you, I tell you,’ and thusly and so beneath a moon of alabaster until a loud cry crossed the night, ‘To the devil with your tunes,’ the words hanging crystalline in the iced white night, ‘in the movies you only mimed to playback singers, so spare me these infernal noises now.”
 
Gibreel, the tuneless soloist, had been cavorting in moonlight as he sang his impromptu gazal, swimming in air, butterfly-stroke, breast-stroke, bunching himself into a ball, spreadeagling himself against the almost-infinity of the almost-dawn, adopting heraldic postures, rampant, couchant, pitting levity against gravity. Now he rolled happily towards the sardonic voice. ‘Ohé, Salad baba, it’s you, too good. What-ho, old Chumch.’ At which the other, a fastidious shadow falling headfirst in a grey suit with all the jacket buttons done up, arms by his sides, taking for granted the improbability of the bowler hat on his head, pulled a nickname-hater’s face. ‘Hey, Spoono,’ Gibreel yelled, eliciting a second inverted wince, ‘Proper London, bhai! Here we come! Those bastards own there won’t know what hit them. Meteor or lightning or vengeance of God. Out of thin air, baby. Dharrraaammm! Wham, na? What an entrance, yaar. I swear: splat.’
 
Out of thin air: a big bang, followed by falling stars. A universal beginning, a miniature echo of the birth of time … the jumbo jet Bostan, Flight AI-420, blew apart without any warning, high above the great, rotting, beautiful, snow-white, illuminated city, Mahagonny, Babylon, Alphaville. But Gibreel has already named it, I mustn’t interfere: Proper London, capital of Vilayet, winked blinked nodded in the night. While at Himalayan height a brief and premature sun burst into the powdery January air, a blip vanished from radar screens, and the thin air was full of bodies, descending from the Everest of the catastrophe to the milky paleness of the sea.
 
Who am I?
 
Who else is there?
 
The aircraft cracked in half, a seed-pod giving up its spores, an egg yielding its mystery. Two actors, prancing Gibreel and buttony, pursed Mr Saladin Chamcha, fell like titbits of tobacco from a broken old cigar. Above, behind, below them in the void there hung reclining seats, stereophonic headsets, drinks trolleys, motion discomfort receptacles, disembarkation cards, duty-free video games, braided caps, paper cups, blankets, oxygen masks. Also – for there had been more than a few migrants aboard, yes, quite a quantity of wives who had been grilled by reasonable, doing-their-job officials about the length of and distinguishing moles upon their husbands’ genitalia, a sufficiency of children upon whose legitimacy the British Government had cast its ever-reasonable doubts – mingling with the remnants of the plane, equally fragmented, equally absurd, there floated the debris of the soul, broken memories, sloughed-off selves, severed mother-tongues, violated privacies, untranslatable jokes, extinguished futures, lost loves, the forgotten meaning of hollow, booming words, land, belonging, home. Knocked a little silly by the blast, Gibreel and Saladin plummeted like bundles dropped by some carelessly open-beaked stork, and because Chamcha was going down head first, in the recommended position for babies entering the birth canal, he commenced to feel a low irritation at the other’s refusal to fall in plain fashion. Saladin nosedived while Farishta embraced air, hugging it with his arms and legs, a flailing, overwrought actor without techniques of restraint. Below, cloud-covered, awaiting their entrance, the slow congealed currents of the English Sleeve, the appointed zone of their watery reincarnation.
 
“O, my shoes are Japanese,’ Gibreel sang, translating the old song into English in semi-conscious deference to the uprushing host-nation, ‘These trousers English, if you please. On my head, red Russian hat; my heart’s Indian for all that.’ The clouds were bubbling up towards them, and perhaps it was on account of that great mystification of cumulus and cumulo-nimbus, the mighty rolling thunderheads standing like hammers in the dawn, or perhaps it was the singing (the one busy performing, the other booing the performance), or their blast-delirium that spared them full foreknowledge of the imminent … but for whatever reason, the two men, Gibreelsaladin Farishtachamcha, condemned to this endless but also ending angelicdevilish fall, did not become aware of the moment at which the processes of their transmutation began.
 
Mutation?
 
Yessir, but not random. Up there in air-space, in that soft, imperceptible field which had been made possible by the century and which, thereafter, made the century possible, becoming one of its defining locations, the place of movement and of war, the planet-shrinker and power-vacuum, most insecure and transitory of zones, illusory, discontinuous, metamorphic, – because when you throw everything up in the air anything becomes possible – wayupthere, at any rate, changes took place in delirious actors that would have gladdened the heart of old Mr Lamarck: under extreme environmental pressure, characteristics were acquired.
 
What characteristics which? Slow down; you think Creation happens in a rush? So then, neither does revelation … take a look at the pair of them. Notice anything unusual? Just two brown men, falling hard, nothing so new about that, you may think; climbed too high, got above themselves, flew too close to the sun, is that it?
 
That’s not it. Listen:
 
Mr Saladin Chamcha, appalled by the noises emanating from Gibreel Farishta’s mouth, fought back with verses of his own. What Farishta heard wafting across the improbable night sky was an old song, too, lyrics by Mr James Thomson, seventeen-hundred to seventeen-forty-eight. ‘ … at Heaven’s command,’ Chamcha carolled through lips turned jingoistically redwhiteblue by the cold, ‘arooooose from out the aaaazure main.’ Farishta, horrified, sang louder and louder of Japanese shoes, Russian hats, inviolately subcontinental hearts, but could not still Saladin’s wild recital: ‘And guardian aaaaangels sung the strain.’
 
Let’s face it: it was impossible for them to have heard one another, much less conversed and also competed thus in song. Accelerating towards the planet, atmosphere roaring around them, how could they? But let’s face this, too: they did.
 
Downdown they hurtled, and the winter cold frosting their eyelashes and threatening to freeze their hearts was on the point of waking them from their delirious daydream, they were about to become aware of the miracle of the singing, the rain of limbs and babies of which they were a part, and the terror of the destiny rushing at them from below, when they hit, were drenched and instantly iced by, the degree-zero boiling of the clouds.
 
They were in what appeared to be a long, vertical tunnel. Chamcha, prim, rigid, and still upside-down, saw Gibreel Farishta in his purple bush-shirt come swimming towards him across that cloud-walled funnel, and would have shouted, ‘Keep away, get away from me,’ except that something prevented him, the beginning of a little fluttery screamy thing in his intestines, so instead of uttering words of rejection he opened his arms and Farishta swam into them until they were embracing head-to-tail, and the force of their collision sent them tumbling end over end, performing their geminate cartwheels all the way down and along the hole that went to Wonderland; while pushing their way out of the white came a succession of cloudforms, ceaselessly metamorphosing, gods into bulls, women into spiders, men into wolves. Hybrid cloud-creatures pressed in upon them, gigantic flowers with human breasts dangling from fleshy stalks, winged cats, centaurs, and Chamcha in his semi-consciousness was seized by the notion that he, too, had acquired the quality of cloudiness, becoming metamorphic, hybrid, as if he were growing into the person whose head nestled now between his legs and whose legs were wrapped around his long, patrician neck.
 
This person had, however, no time for such ‘high falutions’; was, indeed, incapable of faluting at all; having just seen, emerging from the swirl of cloud, the figure of a glamorous woman of a certain age, wearing a brocade sari in green and gold, with a diamond in her nose and lacquer defending her high-coiled hair against the pressure of the wind at these altitudes, as she sat, equably, upon a flying carpet. ‘Rekha Merchant,’ Gibreel greeted her. ‘You couldn’t find your way to heaven or what?’ Insensitive words to speak to a dead woman! But his concussed, plummeting condition may be offered in mitigation … Chamcha, clutching his legs, made an uncomprehending query: ‘What the hell?’
 
‘You don’t see her?’ Gibreel shouted. ‘You don’t see her goddamn Bokhara rug?’
 
No, no, Gibbo, her voice whispered in his ears, don’t expect him to confirm. I am strictly for your eyes only, maybe you are going crazy, what do you think, you namaqool, you piece of pig excrement, my love. With death comes honesty, my beloved, so I can call you by your true names.
 
Cloudy Rekha murmured sour nothings, but Gibreel cried again to Chamcha: ‘Spoono? You see her or you don’t?’
 
Saladin Chamcha saw nothing, heard nothing, said nothing. Gibreel faced her alone. ‘You shouldn’t have done it,’ he admonished her. ‘No, sir. A sin. A suchmuch thing.”

Table of Contents

I. The Angel Gibreel
II. Mahound
III. Ellowen Deeowen
IV. Ayesha
V. A City Visible but Unseen
VI. Return to Jahilia
VII. The Angel Azraeel
VIII. The Parting of the Arabian Sea
IX. A Wonderful Lamp

What People are Saying About This

Salman Rushdie

What is being expressed is a discomfort with plural identity...We are increasingly becoming a world of migrants, made up of bits and fragments from here, there. We are here. And we have never really left anywhere we have been.

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The Satanic Verses 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 98 reviews.
CymLowell More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The first chapter was one of the best first chapters I have ever read. But I found the story line hard to follow and gave up half way through the book. I have a sense that I was just not smart enough for this book. I hate when that happens.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Soon I was playing a game with a friend - a wonderful game I created called, 'Opening Sentences for a Novel.' Inspired, of course, by Salman's Rushdie's Satanic Verses. The book is a parabalic.. hallucinatory journey.. a discovery of soul. An experiment with religion. A creative piece of brilliant work where Salman merely asks a few honest and insightful questions. So, one part of the journey.. (and only one part, mind you)... was about Mahound (aka Mohammad), and his tormented battle with the Archangel Gabriel... Within the Quran it explains that Mohammad wrestled with Gabriel.. and gabriel spoke the truth... The book begins with two indian men falling out of the night sky into the English sea... Wow.. what a beginning! It begins with them in perpetual fall... one man is terrified... the other man is singing jovially... and as they fall... they carry on a conversation... and Salman makes the comment: Let's face it; it was impossible for them to have heard one another, much less conversed and also competed thus in song. Accelerating towards the planet, atmosphere roaring around them, how could they? But let's face this, too: they did. Anyway, when they fall... the two men begin to slowly change.... one begins to transform into an angel... the other, into a hoofed goat.. with horns.. aka.. the devil... now, the man who's transforming into an angel... begins to have these... hallucinatory dreams... each dream.. is a continuation of the same story.... He knows that when he falls asleep again.. he's just going to pick up where he left of... and he dreams of Mahound, and in his dream, he IS Mohammad... So, Salman Rushdie concocted this brilliant scene... when Mahound wrestles with the archangel Gabriel.. and Gabriel's mouth opens.. and he speaks the truth.. The Truth, which became the Quran. But, as Salman explores this scene... he puts a twist to it... the character, Mahound.. (The dreaming Gabriel)... wonders if the Angel is actually talking.... or if he is only hearing what he wants to hear... It's pure poetry! The muslim fundementalists didn't even bother to try to understand the theme of the book! Which wasn't at all about religion... something far more endearing to the heart. Mahound was simply one chapter. For instance... You know the second guy? The one who turns into a horned goat.. Well, one chapter is about how he ended up in the middle of the sky! Starting from his youth... So, he's like 10.. and his father's a multi-millionaire.. but very hard on his son... the father thinks he's making a man out of him. But the son just despises him...One time the son finds a wallet on the street with a wadful of british pounds.... The father snatches the wallet off him... And here's the thing... the dad has the original magic lamp of Aladdin.. as traced back through the centuries. He had aquired it through some effort. BUT he NEVER rubbed the lamp! The 10 year old can't figure out why! His dad says, 'as long as it's mine, no one will rub it. When I die, it will be yours.. then you may do with it what you like.' Anyway... after this.. we leave their story altogether... and explore all these other fascinating characters... Right at the end of the book... the man's father has just died... and he aquires the magic lamp. I ain't gonna tell you the twist. It's BLOODY AMAZING! You will never come across a twist like that... very very rare.
007lemming More than 1 year ago
Everyone should read this book if for no other reason than to see what all the hype was about. After all, how often does a book cause so much animosity that religious and political leaders call for the authors murder? The book is tough to follow, it combines three separate story lines, and uses copious metaphor and symbolism. It's often labeled as magical realism, which basically means that it combines extremely realistic and descriptive settings with completely unreal and fantastical happenings. It does get easier to read once you get through the first 100 pages or so. And if you aren't interested in it's commentary on Islam, or the disenfranchised, it's also just a really great story.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A confusing book, but wonderful. I read it as part of a politics and literature course 7 years ago with a professor from India. Her insight in to some of the nuances of the book made it make sense. One needs to read the book for what it is and seek out answers to what they don't understand.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Satanic Verses is a great book and i reccomend it to every one who enjoys reading books if this kind.. you might not understand a few things ..... but when it comes to islam if you chalange anything in the quran the muslims kill you The Satanic Verses did a great job of defying the quran and try to get to the truth of islam
Guest More than 1 year ago
Islam needs to reign in its radical elements thus preventing these associations made by the western world...... a devote muslim knows in his heart of hearts that violence is not the answer.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Rushdie's book is a mixture of Alice in Wonderland meets Madison avenue. Although the the title seems provocative and dramatic, the book is only mildly so. Although almost presaging 9/11 with its airplane terror scene, the book is otherwise stilted in too many scene changes to fast. While I couldn't put the book down I was left, at the end of Rushdie's highly publicized tome, scratching my head and looking for a point.
siafl on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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.
Niecierpek on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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.
Sarij on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I don't care if you don't like his writing, but if you like the idea of free expression, of free speech, then The Satanic Verses is a must read. It is a modern document of our ongoing struggle to attain and maintain free expression. Rushdie is an amazing man. I am not so much a fan of his writing at times, but he is, once you allow the language to envelop you, an exceptional story teller. If you have any doubts or difficulties about reading his works, I would suggest that you begin by reading Horoun and the Sea of Stories or Luka and the Fire of Life, as they display his story telling ability much more clearly without having to be burdened (in a certain way) by the complexity of his use of language.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I purchased this book expecting a religious commentary along the lines of William Blake. Little did I know that it was a marvelous literary work of fiction. Rushdie's style is not the easiest to read, but is highly rewarding and flows quite nicely once accustomed to it. The satire contained within is very easy to miss (I could read this book in 50 years time and still not understand some of the jokes), but those I caught had me laughing hysterically. I do not quite understand the great offense taken by so many saying that it is such an evil book, but then again I'm not a poster boy for organized religion anyhow. I think that too many people saw that the title had the word 'Satanic' in it and shunned it immediately. Their loss...
Guest More than 1 year ago
An excellent novel on the nature of good and evil, reality vs. perception, truth and beauty. I can understand why devote islamists denounce the book. But look at what the book is saying, rather than harping on the stereotypes it is smashing - you'll find the message is not all that different.
Guest More than 1 year ago
An immense work. Good and evil need to coexist and, all too often, appearances are deceiving. You don't need a deep understanding of islam to enjoy this book. If those of you interested in this type of literature, De Vito's 'The Apocrypha' does for christianity what Rushdie did for the muslim faith.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is one of the few books that the future will look on with the same respect that we have when we look at the greats from centuries past. It is sometimes sad and heartbreaking, sometimes controversial, but the overall attitude of this work is surprisingly uplifting with the picaresque humor and the redemptive aspects of the work. It is a truly moving book that deserves all the attention that it has gotten. It's unfortunate that so much of that attention is based on the less important yet more controversial aspects of the novel. A phenomenal piece of literature.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this novel is at the very least, daunting. if not from the title or the controversy or or the size or the reputation. but im convinced as a reader and particularly one with an interest in religion and philosophy that it is a challenge worth taking on. Some of the one-liners (both humerous and serious) are priceless. there is defiantely literary worth in the book, plenty, it just seems to me that it hit too much of an exposed nerve in its reviewers. Luckily, the itch was ignited by a worthy force. Rushdie has some briliant passages, which would make any poet or musician sigh- and he has passages that annoy all the brilliant analytical critics. There is, i think, a place for him in the postmodern (-y)literary canon next to (fill in the blank) and (of course) way down the hall from Thomas Pynchon and Kurt Vonnegut. In the end, with both sides of artist and critic as opposed (and entrenched) as ever, the novel (ultimately) fails to reconcile the two in one fall swoop...which, to be fair, is perhaps way too much more than can be asked for......where else but in fiction can we honestly have this wish? However, reading a novel by an obviously deeply comitted (NOT irresonsible gadfly) and fiercely talented (NOT hack, sensationalist blasphemer) writer like Rushdie should be enjoyed for its own sake. Perhaps not (maybe) an Immortal Prose Masterpiece, but a very interesting and humanly accurate (albeit faulted and at times simply too damn confusing) story which certainly deserves unhysterical attention.
Eyejaybee on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An imaginative tour de force! I am too lamentably ignorant of Islam to know whether the book was indeed blasphemous, but simply as a novel it is fascinating. The novel opens with the two principal characters, Gibreel Farishta and Saladin Chamcha plunging earthwards having been thrown out of a jumbo jet that had been blown up by terrorists. Clutching each other they start to flap their arms, and are miraculously saved while all the other passengers are killed.Both of them start to undergo alarming physical changes. Gibreel Farishta, previously a leading Bollywood star, gradually takes on the angelic attributes of his angelic namesake while Saladin begins to turn into the standard perception of a devil.Meanwhile, interpolated throughout the book are various dreamlike episodes, presumably unwinding in Gibreel's tortured mind, which seem to mirror the life of the Prophet, here depicted as Mahound.In the background is the strange beautiful mountaineer Alleluila Cone with whom Gibreel is infatuated.I first read this novel shortly after it was published and before the fatwa was issued, and was immediately struck by the colour of the characters, the intricacy of the plot and the breadth of imagination. Those response still seem justified more than twenty years later.
mikemillertime on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An ambitious but rambling collection of stories that loosely form a sprawling epic, this book tries to connect religion, philosophy, pop culture into one substantial allegory, but instead it is a disjointed affair that cheaply touches upon heavy ideas to try and graft some depth to its story. As a would-be fairy tale, the story is a relentlessly long yarn that would invariably hold far more appeal to an Easterner that could better understand its myriad allusions to Indian culture and language. This book is all hype for its controversial blasphemy, but really its just simple and trite. The book is merely disrespectful to traditional religions as opposed to being replete with redefining revelations and insight into the ethereal.
Devil_llama on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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.
fiverivers on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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.
canread on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Layer on layer of imagery, free verse prose, a lyrical, magical alt-telling of the Prophet's life and the immigrant experience, controversial and beautiful. Let the words carry you where they will, and enjoy the ride.
drsnowdon on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
As a Rushdie fan, I like the writing in general and the fantasy-reality elements that make his books so unique. However, I can't help but feel that if it wasn't for the fatwa and attached media attention that this book would never have gone as far or received so many positive reviews. This is my least favourite Rushdie book based on the laborious pacing.
CymLowell on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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.
gbill on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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.