RGC 340. The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie


[read: yes, it’s worth all the buzz from the 1980s]

» Must haves: An imagination. And a good sense of humor. And a lot of time, just make sure you make it through every detail. » Pairs well with: Peanuts. It keeps the mind fresh and, I’m not kidding, ready for whatever Rushdie’s going to throw at you.

This one sneaks onto the list because Rory did mention the work in Season 7, Episode 20. Besides, I’m writing my senior thesis [read: my own funeral] on Jhumpa Lahiri and Salman Rushdie, so how could I refuse a chance to feature him on [Read: Twenty-Something]?

I tried to mentally prepare myself for this. I mean, everyone’s heard of the fuss around The Satanic Verses, his safety exile/hiding/retreat, and one of his understandable claims to fame. If you don’t, read up on it, it’s quite the mess. Mr. Rushdie, though, this book was well worth it. I’d say it’s quite imaginative to write in two characters as the angel and the devil, based on the Quran, right on Earth. With a South Asian frame of reference, it falls into the category of ‘Sneha’s Must Reads’ pretty easily. It’s worth reading the entire way through, but I will warn you, Rushdie’s prose is heavy (reminds one of Joyce) and you’ll need to take breaks. Breaks to avoid the headaches. A great time to get some more peanuts when you run out.

Anyways, I definitely enjoyed this read, though it was mentally taxing. The hype was accurate, but did make me afraid to read the book in the beginning and for a very long time. I read it after reading Midnight’s Children and Shame, so I was pretty familiar with Rushdie at this point. If you’re interested at all, Midnight’s Children  was also absolutely wonderful, cataloging the story of a boy born at the exact second the country of India was born, and I don’t want to give too much away, but it says a lot about the country today that just celebrated its independence from the British Raj this week. Rushdie has a way of making anything both beautiful and grotesque, which is artful, but as I said, can get heavy for those of you looking for a light read.

No disappointments here, though. I’m interested to read Joseph Anton next, featuring Rushdie’s time in exile and the impact it had on him as a writer, beginning with the fact that it was released under a pseudonym. The man definitely has balls, that’s for sure, publishing a book that would be banned in several countries and have many calling for his death. But it is available in the United States and worth a read if you can get your hands on it.

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