Two Years Eight Months & Twenty-Eight Nights

9781910702048

Salman Rushdie

First Sentence:     Very little is known, though much has been written, about the true nature of the jinn, the creatures made of smokeless fire.

Back of the book:

In the near future, after a storm strikes New York City, the strangenesses begin. A down-to-earth gardener finds that his feet no longer touch the ground. A graphic novelist awakens in his bedroom to a mysterious entity that resembles his own sub-Stan Lee creation. Abandoned at the mayor’s office, a baby identifies corruption with her mere presence, marking the guilty with blemishes and boils. A seductive gold digger is soon tapped to combat forces beyond imagining.

Unbeknownst to them, they are all descended from the whimsical, capricious, wanton creatures known as the jinn. Centuries ago, Dunia, a princess of the jinn, fell in love with a mortal man of reason. Together they produced an astonishing number of children, unaware of their fantastical powers, who spread across generations in the human world.

Once the line between worlds is breached on a grand scale, Dunia’s children and others will play a role in an epic war between light and dark spanning a thousand and one nights – or two years, eight months, and twenty-eight nights. It is a time of enormous upheaval, in which beliefs are challenged, words act like poison, silence is a disease, and a noise may contain a hidden curse.

Quote from the book:

He was aware that the way things really were was far different than most people believed. The world a wilder, more feral, more abnormal environment than ordinary civilians were able to accept. Ordinary civilians lived in a state of innocence, veiling their eyes against the truth. The world unveiled would scare them, destroy their moral certainties, lead to losses of nerve or retreats into religion or drink.

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Luka and the Fire of Life

Salman Rushdie

First Sentence:  There was once, in the city of Kahani in the land of Alfibay, a boy named Luka who had two pets, a bear named Dog and a dog named Bear, which meant that whenever he called out ‘Dog!’ the bear waddled up amiably on his hind legs, and when he shouted ‘Bear!’ the dog bounded towards him wagging his tail.

Like Haroun and the Sea of Stories before it, Luka and the Fire of Life is ostensibly a childrens’ book written by Rushdie for one of  his sons. Luka is Harouns’ younger brother and many of Harouns’ adventures are alluded to throughout the book. This book is once more concerned with storytelling as a sacred tradition, but Rushdie brings it bang up to date by portraying Lukas’ adventure as a kind of real life platform computer game, complete with levels to pass, and lives to be lost along the way, while also incorporating the ever-present army of discarded divinities. Most ancient civilisations have at least one God representing them in this mishmash of forgotten myth and invented wonder. Lukas’ father has fallen into a deep sleep and is slowly losing his life after Luka, somewhat rashly, curses the local circus for mistreating their animals. When Luka accidentally steps into the magical world, he meets Nobodaddy [basically his fathers’ personal Death, who explains that Luka must steal the Fire of Life if he wants to save his father’s life] and so the classic hero quest begins. As Luka progresses through each level accompanied by [the now talking] Bear the dog and Dog the bear he meets countless half-forgotten Gods and heroes from ancient stories. It is also very much a current book however, in that it speaks of our “High Definition and low expectations”, presumably a dig at what passes for entertainment on television these days. I found this book to be quite entertaining with some of Rushdie’s trademark lyrical acrobatics. I just think it seems to be neither a fully fledged childrens’ book, nor an out-and-out adult’s book, but some sort of halfway hybrid and, in my opinion, it suffered as a result. Enjoyable but not his best.

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