No book in modern times has matched the uproar sparked by The Satanic Verses. Furore aside, it is a marvellously erudite study of good and evil.The book begins with two Indians plummeting from the sky after the explosion of their airliner, and proceeds through a series of metamorphoses, dreams and revelations. Rushdie's powers of invention are astonishing in this Whitbread Prize winner.
©1988 Salmon Rushdie; (P)2009 WF Howes Ltd
Sam Dastor's wonderful performance--and with the many accents required, it's a performance, not just a reading--makes Salman Rushdie's writing come alive. The book itself is a modern classic, and so much has been said I can't add any more. I've owned a hardbound copy for years, but this is a novel that, like James Joyce's Ulysses, is even more vivid when heard than read. I could put the book down, and have frequently done so, but when it's playing on my iPhone, I just don't want to stop listening.
When this was first published I ignored it, but only recall having a bad disposition towards it based solely on the zeitgeist of my particular community at that time.
I was stupid to have ignored this work of prose for so long. Aside from being a wonderful farce, it contains so many gems of philosophical prose such as: "Our names meet, separate, and meet again, but the people going by the names do not remain the same." or : "The fall of angels, Gibreel reflected, was not the same kettle as the Tumble of Woman and Man. In the case of human persons, the issue had been morality. Of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil they shouldst not eat, and ate. Woman first, and at her suggestion man, acquired the verboten ethical standards, tastily apple-flavoured: the serpent brought them a value system. Enabling them, among other things, to judge the Deity Itself, making possible in good time all the awkward inquiries: why evil? Why suffering? Why death? -- So, out they went. It didn't want Its pretty creatures getting above their station... -- Whereas the angels' crash was a simple matter of power: a straightforward piece of celestial police work, punishment for rebellion, good and tough "pour encourager les autres". -- Then how unconfident of Itself this Deity was, Who didn't want Its finest creations to know right from wrong; and Who reigned by terror, insisting upon the unqualified submission of even Its closest associates, packingoff all dissidents to Its blazing Siberias, the gulag- infernos of Hell. . ."
Those two diamonds of thought alone make this a stellar novel, and this book is filled with a great many more. Sam Dastor does a great job of painting the text into an audio picture. All in all marvelous.
yes, if you enjoy rushdie
it's not about favorites. it's about the interplay of characters and events
this is a brilliant book but needs to be read or listened to slowly and savoured like a good wine
I liked moments of this novel and there is some nice writing, but when all is said and done I had a little trouble piecing it all together and ultimately caring what happened to characters. I am glad I tried it to see what it was all about but this is now my 6th or so Rushdie and I like him less each time. There is some nice wordplay that made me want to go to Nabokov again, (who does it better) and there is some nice "magical realism" which made me hope that Marquez will show up on audible some day (marquez does it better). Overall I think Rushdie tries too hard. Moor's Last Sigh is my favorite of his but it's not available yet, and I hope it holds up on a 2nd reading when the time comes. It may be that I suffered a little being 1 step removed from the Islamic faith and references, and a 2nd step removed from the Indian history and politics and so just couldn't get as much out of this as I should. A friend listened at same time and we discussed as we went and he had much the same response. Not saying don't try it, but I think this is a cultural thing and I just don't have the background necessary for 100% enjoyment.
English Lit BA highest honors UC Berkeley, 1974. Listening to books for pleasure or education is fun and it separates good writing from bad.
I am almost finished listening to this, but at this point I am completely blown away! Rushdie is great. The narrator is a man of many voices (just like Saladin Chumcha), and brings forth the comic, the serious, the seriously comic and the positively transcendent from the book. I am both vastly entertained, amused and inspired.
I focus on fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, science, history, politics and read a lot. I try to review everything I read.
Frankly I listened to this because of the controversy it inspired. I was quite disappointed. It tries (perhaps too hard) to be a great novel. Maybe it is just cultural differences, but I did not find the characters compelling and I did not find the humor particularly funny. At times it is mildly amusing, at times almost interesting, sometimes it tried really hard to be incisive. The depiction of Mohammad is quite fictionalized and unflattering, but no more so than countless depictions of Jesus or Moses. Note a very good book, but the author certainly does not deserve anything worse than few bad reviews.
The narration was great. I always enjoy the singsong Indian accents.
The writing was good.
The content was dismal. It seemed to be a tangle of rejects knitted together into a truly atrocious whole.
Now I know this isn’t the politically correct thing to say, or the intelligentsian response, and I don’t care. Like when art critics tell me an abominable piece of work is soooo flapping magnificent. I have eyes as well as good taste. Its damnably ugly. The same holds true for some works of literature.
I thought highly of Rushdie’s Shalimar the Clown, and still intend to read Midnight’s Children, but I remain singularly unimpressed with this offering, despite the very occasional noteworthy, well written idea.
The story is powerful, engrossing, huge. If you're keen to know why The Satanic Verses is such a controversial novel, invest in this book. It is a wonderful piece of storytelling and the narrator for this book does wonders to make it engaging and accessible. First class!
Sam Dastor does an outstanding job of bringing the story to life. I don't think I could have gone through the novel just purely by reading it. The narrator really did an incredible job. To be able to perform the voices for such a wide range of characters is superb.
My interests run to psychology, popular science, history, world literature, and occasionally something fun like Jasper Fforde. It seems like the only free time I have for reading these days is when I'm in the car so I am extremely grateful for audio books. I started off reading just the contemporary stuff that I was determined not to clutter up my already stuffed bookcases with. And now audio is probably 90% of my "reading" matter.
This book achieved infamy because of course of the fatwa. What all the news stories managed to leave out is that this is a very funny book. The news stories also managed to leave the impression that the book is all about making fun of Muhammed. That's not what the book is about at all. It's an attempt to convey the experience of the expatriate Indian/Pakistani experience in England. Rushdie approaches this subject with a boundless supply of creative imagination. It is complex, interwoven, genre-bending, but ultimately rewarding if you can give it the attention and focus it deserves.
"A MUST listen"
As I'm currently only able to listen to books I thought I'd take the oportunity to 'absorb' books I wouldn't normally get around to reading... however this book was absolutely beautiful from the opening sentence. It was like listening to a persian carpet, many intricate stories woven together to leave an overall piece of art. So many very visually inspiring descriptions and considering when it was written, it is even more appropriate for the current friction between various religions,and inspired me to now learn more about various religious texts.
The narrator was perfect, capturing the various characters, the only difficulty was distinguishing the characters from one another with the similar sounding names, I could have done with a short list of the characters names to familiarize myself with them, or to refer to periodically.
"The Satanic Verses"
I have avoided this book in the past due to the controversy surrounding it. Well, I am sorry that I have left it this long. Not only is it a great story but this is easily one of Salman Rushdie's better book. I find him rather prone to being wordy but here it is concise and the story telling very easy to follow. If you wish to only read one of his books, make it this one. Highly recommended. Ignore the controversy.
"Complex, erudite, humouress."
Highly intellectual and I'm sure a great deal of this book went over my head. For me I found it to be an interesting exploration of how we can come to be defined by other peoples opinions and expectations be they bigoted or not; along with the theme of fair-is-foul and foul-is-fair.
There is also some great humour to be found in this book.
Be prepared for the genre of magical realism though where anything can and does happen, while be treated as perfectly normal.
The narration is excellent and the humour comes across.
"What a listen"
I attempted to read this book in print several times and really struggled. I decided to give the audiobook ago and it was great - the accents of the narrator really help to put the indian slag into perspective and the language sounds even more lyrical when read aloud. Its long, but worth a listen.
"A touch too smug for the faint of heart"
A well narrated tale which might well be subtitled look at me, how clever I am, it has smug running through the entire book like a stick of seaside rock , though for all that there are sections of the highest quality
"Stick with it."
I struggled through many parts of this book and was close to givng up at times. However, I am so pleased that I stuck with it. I know a reasonable amount about the Islamic faith and this is a definite advantage. It is one of those books that stays with you for a long time after having read it.
"Despite the controversy this book attracted"
I would definitely listen to this book again. Despite the controversy this book attracted at its time of release I found the characters and the story fascinating, interesting and leaving me wanting more, this book is read beautifully making each character their own person and giving them a real sense of being. This now one of my favourites and an excellent book will listen again for sure.
The different beliefs systems incorporated in to the story and their sense of meaning and no meaning to life.
Not listened to any others yet
No broken up while driving
"Wonderful for walking to!"
Not quite what I expected, but then what book ever is? Rushdie is such a very good writer and the subject very controversial at the time of publishing, that I expected something 'unexpected'. Now that we have experienced for many years the controversial rants and media 'expertise' it seemed a little tame. However, a really good story and would recommend it to anyone.
"Good but not for everybody"
The Satanic Verses gives an interesting insight into the Anglo Indian community and mind-set and Sam Dastor does an excellent job narrating, his range gives each of the characters depth and a sense of uniqueness, but not being part of the Anglo Indian community I felt I was missing out on a lot of the context and motivations behind the characters actions.
Of course the controversy surrounding the content of The Satanic Verses means that a lot of people won’t even pick it up, my only suggestion would be to do your research before you purchase it, if you think you will like it then I’m sure you will love it, if its outside your usual reading spectrum then like me you might feel you missed something significant that could have made this a great read.
"Wonderful - stick with it."
Rushdie's the Satanic Verses is so marvellously, floridly, verbosely descriptive that it's easy at first to get lost in his moment and lose sight of the rich narrative that he is weaving. However, do stick with it. As you become familiar with the characters and the three intertwined stories, Rushdie works his magic to construct a fascinating narrative that explores good and evil. This is a wonderful book that I highly recommend.
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