The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie

Posted October 30, 2012 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Book of the Month, Literary Fiction, Magical Realism / 0 Comments

The Satanic Verses by Salman RushdieTitle: The Satanic Verses (Goodreads)
Author: Salman Rushdie
Published: Picador, 1988
Pages: 561
Genres: Literary Fiction, Magical Realism
My Copy: Personal Copy

Buy: AmazonBook Depository (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

To celebrate Banned Book Week, the book club decided to read The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie. For those who don’t know, the book tells the story of two Indian actors falling to earth, transformed into living symbols of angelic and evil. Both actors struggle to piece their lives together and this novel tries to put it all together from the terrorist hijacking that leads to them falling to earth and surviving to their live their struggles. Farishta is a Bollywood superstar and Chamcha is a voiceover artist in England but The Satanic Verses is a clash between Eastern and Western culture and the effects it has on their Hindu faith.

I started off really enjoying this book; it was bizarre and I had no idea where this book would take me but after the millionth dream sequence I did feel very lost. I don’t begin to understand the religious aspects of this book or the life of Muhammad so I felt like I was missing a lot from this novel. I did end up asking a friend about life as a Muslim and the issues she faced with religion in western society which did lead to her fully venting and while it was great to get her opinion, I was left with more questions than answers. I finally had to try and accept that Rushdie is just trying to vent his own issues about his personal dilemmas about faith and being disillusioned with both cultures.

While this book is considered to be both controversial and acclaimed, I found it hard to see this book as either. Of course I understand if people take issues with this book but for me it felt more like Salman Rushdie needed to express his concerns and it was more a personal problem than a stab at the entire religion. As for the critically acclaimed aspect, sure the books was beautifully written but the magical realism was probably turned up to the extreme in this novel and it was difficult to piece together. Also if you want to understand this book fully you may need to study theology and migrate to a place that clashes with your cultural ideals.

Overall this book was confusing and made my brain feel like it was melting; there is so much weirdness and depth to the book I have a feeling I will never grasp it in a way I would like to. The amount of dream sequences didn’t help this book as made it a lot harder to keep up with. I would love to know what someone that has a similar issue with religion and culture butting heads thinks of this book.

I would be interested in reading this book again, maybe when I have a degree in literature and have the tools to fully analyse everything in this book. But for now it was too intense for me to get full enjoyment out of it. I’ve heard Salman Rushdie is not an easy author to read and I can see why. This book’s final rating is not a reflection of my enjoyment of the book but more of the proses and the fact that it has stuck with me well after I’ve finished it. I don’t fully understand it but I now appreciate what he did with The Satanic Verse.

0 responses to “The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie

  1. I’ve heard a lot about this book (obviously) but never read it. Great review, I have to read it at some point and, like you, discover for myself how controversial it really is.

    We must remember thought that what’s a no-issue to us, is controversial to others.

  2. june seghni

    When this first came out I didn’t read it,and I have found other books of his pretty hard to get on with. At a much later date, I reverted to Islam, and would be quite interested to read it now, to see for myself what all the controversy was about. I sometimes feel a bit schizophrenic about this sort of thing having had a secular upbringing and viewing free speech as an absolute right , and now also looking at things through the prism of my faith… Sadly my to-read pile is mountainous, so it’ll be a while until I get to it I fear…

  3. Sam_TinyLibrary

    I really enjoyed this review. I’ve tried to read Midnight’s Children a few times but just couldn’t get into it, so it’s good in a way to see someone else not really getting what apparently makes Rushdie’s books so important. I think he’s just not a writer for me.

  4. Lectus

    I picked the book again in the library and thought of joining your group to read it along but…never found the inspiration to try reading it again…
    Rushdie is an acquired taste, like caviar. Some people (with higher capacity to understand his writing than I have) go gaga for him. And have you seen how young and beautiful his last ex wife is? And how much she got for the divorce settlement? Seriously, if writing like would get me Brad Pitt I might just give it a try 🙂

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