Wow, what happened? All I knew about this book was that it was so controversial that Iran’s Supreme Leader; Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa (an Islamic Legal opinion/pronouncement) that Salman Rushdie (and anyone involved in publishing this book) should be executed for blasphemy. Boy, did that cause a world-wide kerfuffle! That was over 40 years ago and the Ayatollah’s fatwa still stands. This year I figured it was time that I found out what all the controversy is about.
This book took me a long time to get through. The bottom line: I didn’t love it and I didn’t hate it. It didn’t make me mad, except for the wanky ending. It was not a book that; ‘I couldn’t wait to read another chapter(s) tonight.’ It was a book I could easily go a week or more before picking it up again.
This book is by far the most bizarre story and style I’ve ever read. It’s written in a style/form that would make Shrunk and White go apoplectic. Some sentences run on for a page, trying to use as many grammatical markings (commas, colons, semi-colons, m-dashes, slashes, parenthesis, etc.) as possible. I understood what he was saying, but man, I would almost guess he was on meth when he penned this.
The story jumps around quite a bit, though revolving (or so it seems) around two main characters. Sometimes it gets so bizarre that I had to ask; Where the **** is he going with this? I couldn’t guess if one or both main characters where really angels or delusional schizophrenics.
After I would discuss parts of this book with my wife, she always asked; ‘Why are you still reading it?’ Answer: I wanted to know what was so terrible about it that a religious leader would order the author to be executed.
Somewhere in there, he does explain how Mohammed came to write the Koran and have answers, or rather confirmations of his own opinions, that came from the angel Gabriel. Rushdie opines that Mohammed came from a distinct culture and class, and that his opinions are directly reflective of that culture. This left me asking ‘What? That’s what all the hubbub is about?’
Do I recommend this book? No. The part about Mohammed and the Koran is interesting, but the rest is a series of messes and confusion.