Finished Satanic Verses

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.”

Now my review: The Satanic VersesThe Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie

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.


About Beth Parks Aronson

I am Associate Professor of Psychology at Lamar University. Previously, I was a psychologist in private practice in Jenkintown, PA where I specialized in anxiety disorders and working with people living with chronic and life-threatening illnesses. I am a little addicted to good literature. Ok, a lot addicted.
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4 Responses to Finished Satanic Verses

  1. Jenny says:

    I have wanted to read this book, because I did love Midnight’s Children so much. It sounds like it may not be for everyone, but maybe someday!

  2. I found The Ground Beneath Her Feet and Fury to be much more fun to read, but I am pretty convinced I’m going to give this a second go sometime soon and expect I’ll like it more.

  3. Oh wow, you finished this one! I’ve always wanted to read Rushdie, but for some reason I could not go past the first few pages of Midnight’s Children. But then, Satanic verses, I will read only to understand the entire controversy around it…
    You are aware of the new controversy surrounding this book and Rushdie, aren’t you? He wasnt allowed entry into India under the pretext of security threat, all because of this book and some forces trying to cash in on the controversy.
    People were disappointed, and we all cried at the death of Free Speech! 😦

  4. Scarlet, someone else who read my blog had a post on his blog about this whole controversy. I had no idea. It is amazing that writing one book could make it impossible for you to visit the country you come from! And I’ve heard he is a wonderful speaker, so that is a loss for anyone who might have heard him speak at the literature festival.

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