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Shalimar the Clown: A Novelby Salman Rushdie
"As Kashmir collapses into chaos, one beleaguered onlooker croaks, 'We are no longer protagonists, only agonists.' That bit of dialogue says much about Shalimar the Clown, Salman Rushdie's new novel, a devastating if at times heavy-handed examination of a doomed love and doomed region. Mr. Rushdie embraces big themes, endless allusions and puns, folklore, and anything else handy in his estimable arsenal while exploring everyone and everything from Clytemnestra and the Koran to Bretton Woods and Bugatti." Erik Spanberg, Christian Science Monitor (read the entire Christian Science Monitor review)
"The quixotic quest for a new hybrid literary form seems to pit Rushdie in a rebellion against the history of the novel itself, a regression to Arthurian romance and staged melodramas....The global novel must appeal to the greatest number; the modern masses of Mumbai, New York, London and their provinces demand spectacle, so let us give the people what they want. Since they all seem to want to watch movies, novels should become as much like movies as possible, all the while winking in homage to the new master art form." Marco Roth, Times Literary Supplement (read the entire times Literary Supplement review)
Synopses & Reviews
From one of the leading literary figures of our time, a gripping international tale of love and revenge, and the ancient and modern conflicts from which they spring.
Los Angeles, 1991. Ambassador Maximilian Ophuls, one of the makers of the modern world, is murdered in broad daylight on his illegitimate daughter India's doorstep, slaughtered by a knife wielded by his Kashmiri Muslim driver, a mysterious figure who calls himself Shalimar the clown. The dead man is a charismatic World War II Resistance hero, a man of formidable intellectual ability, a former US ambassador to India and subsequently America's counter-terrorism chief. The murder looks at first like a political assassination, but turns out to be passionately personal.
This is the story of Max Ophuls, his killer and his daughter — and of a fourth character, the woman who links them, whose story finally explains them all. It is an epic narrative that moves from California to Kashmir, from Nazi-occupied Europe to the world of modern terrorism. Along the way there is kindness, and magic capable of producing miracles; there is also war — ugly, unavoidable and seemingly interminable. And there is always love, gained and lost, uncommonly beautiful and mortally dangerous.
Everything is unsettled. Everything is connected. Lives are uprooted, names keep changing — nothing is permanent. The story of anywhere is also the story of everywhere else. Spanning the globe and darting through history, Rushdie's narrative captures the heart of the reader and the spirit of a troubled age.
"To characterize the novel as 'rich' seems inadequately broad as a general description of a Rushdie book....His beautifully metaphoric language and sly sense of humor keep his complex plot, with its layers of personal and cosmic meaning, tightly woven." Booklist
"[A] magical-realist masterpiece that equals, and arguably surpasses, the achievements of Midnight's Children, Shame, and The Moor's Last Sigh. The Swedes won't dare to offend Islam by giving Rushdie the Nobel Prize he deserves more than any other living writer. Injustice rules." Kirkus Reviews
"Less antic in its fabulism than his controversial The Satanic Verses, less self-conscious and fragmented than the Booker Prize-winning Indian opus Midnight's Children, the new work is fiercely focused and, for Rushdie, understated." Miami Herald
"Shalimar the Clown is a book without a center; it is more like a dragon that consumes its tail as it proceeds forward....Once readers accept this kind of destabilization, they can enjoy moments of hope in this book for what they truly are: moments." Boston Globe
"[T]he author's allegory-making machinery clanks and wheezes....Shalimar the Clown is hobbled by Mr. Rushdie's determination to graft huge political and cultural issues onto a flimsy soap opera plot....[An] ambitious but ham-handed novel." Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
"Rushdie's greatest novel since The Satanic Verses....There is nothing cutesy here, no pages of puns to hide the naked pain of the horrors that one house can inflict on another, but transparent, extraordinary writing." Los Angeles Times
"Rushdie simply delivers more of a wallop in one novel than most writers achieve ever. If Rushdie's novels like Midnight's Children and The Moor's Last Sigh are embedded in your brain, you will adore Shalimar the Clown. There is an epic sweep to Shalimar." USA Today
"[T]he strongest parts...give lust and betrayal their primal due. Regrettably, the author's got bigger ideas....Trumping up connections from his love triangle to a half century's worth of geopolitics, Salman Rushdie overwhelms his own characters. (Grade: B)" Entertainment Weekly
"The book deftly mixes dark comedy with high politics, sex and war and terror, romance and mythology. It never flags...and while not a great novel it is certainly close enough to greatness that it demonstrates to us once again...that, as Herman Melville said, great novels demand great themes." Chicago Tribune
"Prepare for magic when reading Shalimar the Clown, the kind of magic that comes from a novelist weaving a story worthy of his genius — and the kind of magic that comes from a novel that opens you to seeing the world as you never supposed. I have warned you." Detroit Free Press
"A masterpiece — a beautiful, painful, terrifying book, both fantastical and harshly realistic, filled with complex and memorable characters, and completely unpredictable in its blend of political thriller, folktale, melodrama, reportage and even science fiction." Seattle Times
In this gripping international tale of love and revenge, and the ancient and modern conflicts from which they spring, a murder looks at first like a political assassination, but turns out to be passionately personal.
“Dazzling . . . Modern thriller, Ramayan epic, courtroom drama, slapstick comedy, wartime adventure, political satire, village legend-theyre all blended here magnificently.”
-The Washington Post Book World
This is the story of Maximilian Ophuls, Americas counterterrorism chief, one of the makers of the modern world; his Kashmiri Muslim driver and subsequent killer, a mysterious figure who calls himself Shalimar the clown; Maxs illegitimate daughter India; and a woman who links them, whose revelation finally explains them all. It is an epic narrative that moves from California to Kashmir, France, and England, and back to California again. Along the way there are tales of princesses lured from their homes by demons, legends of kings forced to defend their kingdoms against evil. And there is always love, gained and lost, uncommonly beautiful and mortally dangerous.
“A commanding story . . . [a] harrowing climax . . . Revenge is an ancient and powerful engine of narrative.”
-The New York Times Book Review
“Absorbing . . . Everywhere [Rushdie] takes us there is both love and war, in strange and terrifying combinations, painted in swaying, swirling, world-eating prose that annihilates the borders between East and West, love and hate, private lives and the history they make.”
“A vast, richly peopled, beautiful and deeply rageful book that serves as a profound and disturbing artifact of our times.”
-San Francisco Chronicle
“Marvelous . . . brilliant . . . a story worthy of [Rushdies] genius.”
-Detroit Free Press
ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR
- The Washington Post Book World -Los Angeles Times Book Review -St. Louis Post-Dispatch -Rocky Mountain News
ONE OF THE BEST NOVELS OF THE YEAR
-Time -Chicago Tribune -The Christian Science Monitor
About the Author
Salman Rushdie is the author of eight previous novels — Grimus, Midnight's Children (for which he won the Booker Prize and the "Booker of Bookers"), Shame, The Satanic Verses, Haroun and the Sea of Stories, The Moor's Last Sigh, The Ground Beneath Her Feet, and Fury — and one collection of short stories, East, West. He has also published five works of non-fiction: The Jaguar Smile, Imaginary Homelands, The Wizard of Oz, Mirrorwork, and Step Across This Line.
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