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Born in Bombay in 1947, Salman Rushdie is the author of six novels, including Grimus, Shame, The Satanic Verses, The Moor's Last Sigh, and The Ground Beneath Her Feet, and a volume of essays, Imaginary Homelands. His numerous literary prizes include the Booker Prize for Midnight's Children and the Whitbread Prize for The Satanic Verses.
Rashid Khalifa, a renowned storyteller, has lost his touch. Once an ``Ocean of Notions,'' he is now ``The Shah of Blahs.'' Haroun, Rashid's son, embarks on an epic quest to restore his father's creativity. One of the problems is environmental: the pollutants of modern civilization have clouded the once-clear streams of story. Another is conspiratorial: the Union of Tight Lips, minions of the evil Khattam-Shud, confound communication by switching on rows of ``darkbulbs.'' Rushdie's first book since the controversial Satanic Verses ( LJ 12/88) is more a postmodern fairy tale in the style of Angela Carter or John Barth than a traditional novel. The story is allegorical rather than realistic, the characters emblematic and two-dimensional. Poignant parallels between Rashid's predicament and Rushdie's own situation are what hold the reader's interest. An amusing but lightweight entertainment. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 9/15/90.-- Edward B. St. John, Loyola Law Sch . , Los Angeles
Following the unprecedented controversy generated by The Satanic Verses , Rushdie offers as eloquent a defense of art as any Renaissance treatise. Supposedly begun as a bedtime story for Rushdie's son, Haroun concerns a supremely talented storyteller named Rashid whose wife is lured away by the same saturnine neighbor who poisons Rashid's son Haroun's thoughts. ``What's the use of stories that aren't even true?'' Haroun demands, parroting the neighbor and thus unintentionally paralyzing Rashid's imagination. The clocks freeze: time literally stops when the ability to narrate its passing is lost. Repentant, Haroun quests through a fantastic realm in order to restore his father's gift for storytelling. Saturated with the hyperreal color of such classic fantasies as the Wizard of Oz and Alice in Wonderland , Rushdie's fabulous landscape operates by P2C2Es (Processes Too Complicated To Explain), features a court where all the attendant Pages are numbered, and unfurls a riotous display of verbal pranks (one defiant character chants ``You can chop suey, but / You can't chop me!''; elsewhere, from another character: `` `Gogogol,' he gurgled. `` `Kafkafka,' he coughed''). But although the pyrotechnics here are entertaining in and of themselves, the irresistible force of the novel rests in Rushdie's wholehearted embrace of the fable--its form as well as its significance. It's almost as if Rushdie has invented a new form, the meta-fable. Rather than retreating under the famous death threats, Rushdie reiterates the importance of literature, stressing not just the good of stories ``that aren't even true'' but persuading us that these stories convey the truth. As Haroun realizes, ``He knew what he knew: that the real world was full of magic, so magical worlds could easily be real.'' (Jan.)
"This is, simply put, a book for anyone who loves a good story. It's also a work of literary genius."--Stephen King "I enjoyed this adventure story....It involves you at once and keeps you reading, and so it should, for it's from the same magic land as Sinbad, The Thousand and One Nights, The Golden Fleece."--Doris Lessing "Fantastical, funny, whooping through drama and comedy, good and evil, introducing creatures delightful or frightening, this joyous and tender book is a whole Arabian Nights entertainment." --Nadine Gordimer, The Times Literary Supplement "A lively, wonderfully inventive comic tale . . . [Rushdie's] own Sea of Stories from which he drew this entertaining and moving book continues to flow as clear and brilliant as ever." --Alison Lurie, The New York Times Book Review