Wow. I feel I should get some kind of award for getting through this one. I usually love Rushdie, but this one didn’t do it for me as his others have. Since posting this the first time, I have read a bunch of reader reviews of the book. I think my experience is common, and others seem to benefit by reading the book a second time (which had been my instinct after finishing it). I fear this may mean that I have a 561 page reread in my not too distant future….
Ok, first the Goodreads Summary: “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.”
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I did this as an audiobook, thinking that after a false start trying to read it, that would make digesting this one easier. On one hand, I have now finished it, on the other, I think I would have been less confused reading it than listening to it. I found the book hard to follow, and that is not my usual experience of Rushdie. By the end, I was feeling my usual affection for him as an author, but it took a lot to get there, and I don’t think I took from the book nearly what was intended. I wish I still had Operation Shylock by Philip Roth because it contains a reference to the fatwa on Rushdie after the publication of this book. The gist was basically, no need for a fatwa over a book no one will be able to get through anyway. That was sort of my experience. I did see what conservative Muslims would object to in the book; it did not go easy on Islam, but I think the critique could as easily be applied to fundamentalism in any religious tradition. Someday I may try again to actually read this book. Having been through it once already, I may then be able to really enjoy what others have found brilliant, rather than feeling pretty lost most of the time.