Friday, December 19, 2014

Reader's Diary #1104- Salman Rushdie: The Satanic Verses

The first time Salman Rushdie crossed my radar was way back when there was a fatwa (first time hearing of that word, as well) to kill Rushdie issued by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini of Iran. He, and some others, felt that Rushdie's novel The Satanic Verses was being blasphemous towards Islam.

Finally, after reading it, I'm a bit envious of Khomeini for having gleaned some meaning from this book. Even if it was the wrong interpretation, at least he was able to form an interpretation. 

Rushdie may have also insulted librarians, fathers, and Newfoundlanders for all I could tell. I could make no sense of this book from beginning to end. And at 547 pages, this made for a long, painful experience. Not so painful that I'd issue a death threat, but painful nonetheless. If this is a book for intelligent folks, I'm clearly in Camp Stupid.

At first I was enjoying some of the rhythm and imagery and wordplay. So I wasn't grasping the plot, at least I could look at it and appreciate it as a long poem. Yeah, after a while that grew tedious, too. There's a plane crash, that I know. There's somebody that began to turn into a goat... I think. But it turned out to be a movie... I think. I also see, from Wikipedia (official sponsor of Camp Stupid, or so I'm told), that the Satanic Verses involves magic surrealism and many dream sequences. Oh.

It's checked off my list, for what that's worth.


Nikki in Niagara said...

Ever since that death threat I've wanted to read this. I guess there's a reason why I haven't! Congrats on wading through, I would have bailed. LOL

Sam said...

Good to see that I'm in good company when it comes to being bewildered by "Satanic Verses."

I owned a pristine first American edition of the book that was on the shelves of bookstores when the fatwa news broke. It is pristine because I only made it about 20% of the way through the book. A long time ago, I decided to sell it but I did even better...traded it to a dealer for a first edition of "The World According to Garp," a beautiful copy that has become quite valuable.

I have, though, enjoyed some of Rushdie's short stories and his novel "Shalimar the Clown."

John Mutford said...

Nicola: Isn't it funny how the negative attention seems to have have worked in the book's favour, enticing more of us to read it than otherwise?

Sam: Good trade! I've heard from other fans of Rushdie's that they prefer other works to this one, so I've not given up on him entirely. Though one of those short stories sounds more appealing to me at this point than a novel.