When Maximilian Ophuls is murdered outside his daughter's home by his Kashmiri Muslim driver, it appears to be a political killing. Ophuls is the former U.S. ambassador to India and America's leading figure in counter-terrorism. But there is much more to Ophuls and his assassin, a mysterious man calling himself "Shalimar the Clown", than meets the eye. One woman is at the center of their shared history, a history of betrayal and deception that moves from World War II Europe to the troubled Kashmir region to contemporary America.
Rushdie effortlessly weaves a series of interconnected narratives to form a sweeping and ambitious tale, at once timeless and startlingly modern, that reaches back through the years and across the continents.
©2005 Salman Rushdie; (P)2005 Recorded Books, LLC
"Shalimar the Clown is a powerful parable about the willing and unwilling subversion of multiculturalism." (Publishers Weekly)
"If Rushdie cannot make you see and smell and feel the loveliness of life in Kashmir, he does, finally, make a commanding story of its loss." (The New York Times Book Review)
"A masterly deployment of interconnected narratives spanning six decades....Dazzling....A magical-realist masterpiece." (Kirkus Reviews)
"A cogent descriptor of Rushdie's sheer and magnificent talent. His beautifully metaphoric language and sly sense of humor keep his complex plot, with its layers of personal and cosmic meaning, tightly woven." (Booklist)
I've been working my way through all of Salman Rushdie's works, and this latest book in an incredible read or listen. Like all of his works, Rushdie delves heavily into parallel dimensions, west/east, past/present, male/female, but also manages to tell a tale that will keep you on the edge of your seat for most of the second half of the book. I was particularly impresed by the ending - well done, Mr. Rushdie!
Also worth noting is that the narrator does an excellent job, and his accent and delivery do a great deal to smooth out sections that would otherwise be difficult to western ears.
I'vr never read Rushdie before, and wasn't sure what to expect. Lovely prose, with detailed embroidery, sometimes interfered with the movement of the story but usually swept me along. The reader was fine, though some consistent mispronounciations were irritating (camino "ray-al" was replaced with camino "reel," for instance). All-in-all enjoyable, and it really shed some light on the battle over Kashmir. The earthquake coverage is far more meaningful having read this book.
WOW! This was my first Rushdie book, but not my last. This is a great story, with lots of background that helped give the characters real depth. I'm not a fan of airplane books, so unlike some of those user reviews that criticized the backstory, I loved the fact that Rushdie took the time to flush out these characters, in depth. If you like a good story, with a foreign culture to add some real color to the tale, you'll really like this book.
The narration was excellent, not too characterized, but enough that it gave real depth to the story.
This is the first book that I've heard/read by Salman Rushdie. I had no sense of his writing capabilities and found myself floored by the beauty of the writing and the epic nature of the story. He flawlessly mixed fact and fiction to create a bold story of high emotional content. It did take a while to get my head adjusted to the complexities of the story and the writing style, but I ultimately became so attached to the book that I was sad to reach the end.
Audible Member Since 2003
I have never read Rushdie before but now I am beginning to understand his popularity. This book begins with a murder and then proceeds to fill in with backstory of extreme detail. It is this story in Kashmir that I found to be, at first, somewhat daunting. The names, words, customs and history were very foreign and a bit difficult to wrap my mind around. However, after hanging in there I became more comfortable with it and began to understand and get very involved. By the second half of the story I was hooked. The story kept me on the so-called "edge of my seat" to the last line.
The writing is excellent and has a supernatural quality. The narration was perfect, considering all of the foreign words and accents required.
Excellent, although not for everyone.
This is a masterpiece of fiction, from one of the greatest living writers. But what also made this a wonderful listen was the masterful reading by Aasif Mandvi. This cannot have been an easy book to narrate, but Mandvi could not have been more perfect. The range of voices he used, and the appropriateness of each one was just perfect. All in all it kept me engrossed for many hours. A great book and reading!
The thing grabbed me and would not let go. It may sound trite, but "gripping" is the word that comes to mind most forcefully. I found myself making up excuses to go on errands, so that I could listen to it while driving. I know that is not legal everywhere, but it was worth the risk. When I neared the end I had to park in a driveway for some time and finish listening. Rushdie never let up. Five minutes before the end I was still being surprised and astonished.
I appreciated how the author makes a significant historical conflict come alive by telling anecdotes of "real" people. We see how a community of Muslims and Hindus, who got along together in the Kashmir, were ripped apart by radicals and extremists from both sides. We witness the slow, insidous divisions that infiltrate, and how people are pushed into brutality by events.
The conflict over Kashmir is an important phenomenon, since it involves two nuclear powers.
However, the characters are not likeable. India Oeffals, Max Oeffals, Shalimar, Bunyi Kohl, are all self-absorbed personalities with not much to endear them to us. I need to like the characters in order to be absorbed in a novel and appreciate it. Rushdie's writing is good craftsmanship. Ultimately we endure the characters rather than getting involved with them.
Bottom line, I enjoyed the read.
I have to dissent from the majority opinion. I found both major and minor characters completely lacking in interest, and Rushdie never really lets you view inside their heads or peer into their souls. Amb. Ophals is a multinational Renaissance Man (he's rich! he's handsome! he's charming! He holds degrees in economics and law! and multiple passports! oh, and he paints like Matisse!) who happens to be a scoundrel where women are concerned, but his character is one-dimensional throughout, and the alleged charm & intellect never quite come through. His affinity for India and the Kashmir issue materializes out of nowhere, simply becoming another addition to his stellar resume. One day he is running the affairs of Europe, the next day he is advising Indira Gandhi on how to run HER country. His daughter, also named India, is likewise lacking in depth and sympathy: her first thought upon seeing her father's bleeding body is to worry about the mess the housekeeper will have to clean. Where critics see a wonderful multicultural allegories, I just see contrived and random events all of which serve to underscore that Ophals can't keep it in his pants. If you're looking for a great read and a love poem to India, I'd highly recommend, instead, Shantaram, which is also available on Audible.
This is a brilliant and moving book. Its beautifully crafted sentences will dazzle you, its wonderful characters will surprise you and hold you rapt, and its plot will move you now to tears now to laughter. All this while you are being taught the politics of the fight over Kashmir through the lives of people in the tiny village of Pachigam and the metropolis of Los Angeles.
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