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Shalimar the Clown: A Novel

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Shalimar the Clown: A Novel Cover

ISBN13: 9780679463351
ISBN10: 0679463356
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Staff Pick

Shalimar the Clown is a welcome addition to the Rushdie canon. Moving across the globe, Rushdie follows his characters from terrorist camps to the privileged world of Los Angeles, motivated by shades of love, curiosity, and burning vengeance. His prose is as gorgeous and playful as ever, and the themes he illuminates here face us dead-on as we look forward across the twenty-first century.
Recommended by Jill Owens, Powells.com

Shalimar the Clown is a welcome addition to the Rushdie canon. Moving across the globe, Rushdie follows his characters from terrorist camps to the privileged world of Los Angeles, motivated by shades of love, curiosity, and burning vengeance. His prose is as gorgeous and playful as ever, and the themes he illuminates here face us dead-on as we look forward across the twenty-first century.
Recommended by Jill Owens, Powells.com

Review-A-Day

"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

Publisher Comments:

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.

Review:

"[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

Review:

"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

Review:

"[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

Review:

"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

Review:

"[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

Review:

"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

Review:

"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

Review:

"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

Review:

"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

Review:

"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

Review:

"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

Synopsis:

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.

Synopsis:

Shalimar the Clown is a masterpiece from one of our greatest writers, a dazzling novel that brings together the fiercest passions of the heart and the gravest conflicts of our time into an astonishingly powerful, all-encompassing story.

Max Ophuls’ memorable life ends violently in Los Angeles in 1993 when he is murdered by his Muslim driver Noman Sher Noman, also known as Shalimar the Clown. At first the crime seems to be politically motivated – Ophuls was previously ambassador to India, and later US counterterrorism chief – but it is much more.

Ophuls is a giant, an architect of the modern world: a Resistance hero and best-selling author, brilliant economist and clandestine US intelligence official. But it is as Ambassador to India that the seeds of his demise are planted, thanks to another of his great roles – irresistible lover. Visiting the Kashmiri village of Pachigam, Ophuls lures an impossibly beautiful dancer, the ambitious (and willing) Boonyi Kaul, away from her husband, and installs her as his mistress in Delhi. But their affair cannot be kept secret, and when Boonyi returns home, disgraced and obese, it seems that all she has waiting for her is the inevitable revenge of her husband: Noman Sher Noman, Shalimar the Clown. He was an acrobat and tightrope walker in their village’s traditional theatrical troupe; but soon Shalimar is trained as a militant in Kashmir’s increasingly brutal insurrection, and eventually becomes a terrorist with a global remit and a deeply personal mission of vengeance.

With sweeping brilliance, Salman Rushdie portrays fanatical mullahs as fully as documentary filmmakers, rural headmen as completely as British spies; he describes villages that compete to make the most splendid feasts, the mentality behind martial law, and the celebrity of Los Angeles policemen, all with the same genius.

But the main story is only part of the story. In this stunningly rich book everything is connected, and everyone is a part of everyone else. Shalimar the Clown is a true work of the era of globalization, intricately mingling lives and countries, and finding unexpected and sometimes tragic connections between the seemingly disparate. The violent fate of Kashmir recalls Strasbourg’s experience in World War Two; Resistance heroism against the Nazis counterpoints Al-Qaeda’s terror in Pakistan, North Africa and the Philippines. 1960s Pachigam is not so far from post-war London, or the Hollywood-driven present-day Los Angeles where Max’s daughter by Boonyi, India Ophuls, beautiful, strong-willed, modern, waits, as vengeance plays itself out.

A powerful love story, intensely political and historically informed, Shalimar the Clown is also profoundly human, an involving story of people’s lives, desires and crises – India Ophuls’ desperate search for her real mother, for example; Max’s wife’s attempts to deal with his philandering – as well as, in typical Rushdie fashion, a magical tale where the dead speak and the future can be foreseen.

Shalimar the Clown is steeped in both the Hindu epic Ramayana and the great European novelists, melding the storytelling traditions of east and west into a magnificently fruitful blend – and serves, itself, as a corrective to the destructive clashes of values it scorchingly depicts. Enthralling, comic and amazingly abundant, it will no doubt come to be seen as one of the key books of our time.

The second portent came on the morning of the murder, when Shalimar the driver approached Max Ophuls at breakfast, handed him his schedule card for the day, and gave in his notice. The ambassador’s drivers tended to be short-term appointees, inclined to move on to new adventures in pornography or hairdressing, and Max was inured to the cycle of acquisition and loss. This time, however, he was shaken, though he did not care to show it. He concentrated on his day’s appointments, trying not to let the card shake. He knew Shalimar’s real name. He knew the village he came from and the story of his life. He knew the intimate connection between his own scandalous past and this grave unscandalous man who never laughed in spite of the creased eyes that hinted at a happier past, this man with a gymnast’s body and a tragedian’s face who had slowly become more of a valet than a mere driver, a silent yet utterly solicitous body servant who understood what Max needed before he knew it himself, the lighted cigar that materialized just as he was reaching for the humidor, the right cuff-links that were laid out on his bed each morning with the perfect shirt, the ideal temperature for his bathwater, the right times to be absent as well as the correct moments to appear. The ambassador was carried back to his Strasbourgeois childhood years in a Belle Époque mansion near the now-destroyed old synagogue, and found himself marvelling at the rebirth in this man from a distant mountain valley. . . .

—from Shalimar the Clown

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.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

minsungus, May 11, 2009 (view all comments by minsungus)
Rarely if ever does the term "understatement" find its way into a discussion of Salman Rushdie--and yet, in this one moment, when I am compelled to emphasize its presence, I simultaneously carry out perhaps the gravest of injustices. For Shalimar is as much about a clown, on the one hand, as it is the next great novel in the tradition of 9-11 literature and contemporary autrocity.

In fact, we are bombarded at every corner by such generalizations, such understatement of details--with details as plenty as any Rushdie compendium of pop-culture, and the result?

If that is all there is to it, then there would be few reasons to read further. But in fact there is every reason. For this is am amazing adept volume, a step ahead of what he have come to expect from a Rushdie novel--this distance given visuality insofar as the clown is, himself, at leaast once removed from the pre-requisite carnival funhouse that frames the narrative as a whole, that melds bits and pieces from across the weave and, however momentarily, brings an image, an illusion, the cosmetic nose of a clown's red into focus, makes all seemingly--if not comprehendible--within the reach of out comprehensions.


And what does it matter. The circus is always in town, we are reminded, and the clown will always be here. If we miss a single moment from this performance--and in all likelihood, we will--we need only wait. With the next performance, as the red is made new again and the crowds file passed the entrance, we know that we are in for a new, utterly fascinating and fantastic performance--and one that will just as likely be as different as those performances we missed, slept through or let pass on our way to what had promised to be a far more compelling performance.
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(4 of 8 readers found this comment helpful)

Product Details

ISBN:
9780679463351
Author:
Rushdie, Salman
Publisher:
Random House
Subject:
General
Subject:
Americans
Subject:
Clowns
Copyright:
Edition Number:
1st
Publication Date:
September 6, 2005
Binding:
Hardcover
Language:
English
Pages:
416
Dimensions:
9.48x6.46x1.30 in. 1.51 lbs.

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Shalimar the Clown: A Novel Used Hardcover
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Product details 416 pages Random House - English 9780679463351 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

Shalimar the Clown is a welcome addition to the Rushdie canon. Moving across the globe, Rushdie follows his characters from terrorist camps to the privileged world of Los Angeles, motivated by shades of love, curiosity, and burning vengeance. His prose is as gorgeous and playful as ever, and the themes he illuminates here face us dead-on as we look forward across the twenty-first century.

"Staff Pick" by ,

Shalimar the Clown is a welcome addition to the Rushdie canon. Moving across the globe, Rushdie follows his characters from terrorist camps to the privileged world of Los Angeles, motivated by shades of love, curiosity, and burning vengeance. His prose is as gorgeous and playful as ever, and the themes he illuminates here face us dead-on as we look forward across the twenty-first century.

"Review A Day" by , "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." (read the entire Christian Science Monitor review)
"Review A Day" by , "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." (read the entire times Literary Supplement review)
"Review" by , "[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."
"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "[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."
"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "[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)"
"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "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."
"Synopsis" by , 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.
"Synopsis" by , Shalimar the Clown is a masterpiece from one of our greatest writers, a dazzling novel that brings together the fiercest passions of the heart and the gravest conflicts of our time into an astonishingly powerful, all-encompassing story.

Max Ophuls’ memorable life ends violently in Los Angeles in 1993 when he is murdered by his Muslim driver Noman Sher Noman, also known as Shalimar the Clown. At first the crime seems to be politically motivated – Ophuls was previously ambassador to India, and later US counterterrorism chief – but it is much more.

Ophuls is a giant, an architect of the modern world: a Resistance hero and best-selling author, brilliant economist and clandestine US intelligence official. But it is as Ambassador to India that the seeds of his demise are planted, thanks to another of his great roles – irresistible lover. Visiting the Kashmiri village of Pachigam, Ophuls lures an impossibly beautiful dancer, the ambitious (and willing) Boonyi Kaul, away from her husband, and installs her as his mistress in Delhi. But their affair cannot be kept secret, and when Boonyi returns home, disgraced and obese, it seems that all she has waiting for her is the inevitable revenge of her husband: Noman Sher Noman, Shalimar the Clown. He was an acrobat and tightrope walker in their village’s traditional theatrical troupe; but soon Shalimar is trained as a militant in Kashmir’s increasingly brutal insurrection, and eventually becomes a terrorist with a global remit and a deeply personal mission of vengeance.

With sweeping brilliance, Salman Rushdie portrays fanatical mullahs as fully as documentary filmmakers, rural headmen as completely as British spies; he describes villages that compete to make the most splendid feasts, the mentality behind martial law, and the celebrity of Los Angeles policemen, all with the same genius.

But the main story is only part of the story. In this stunningly rich book everything is connected, and everyone is a part of everyone else. Shalimar the Clown is a true work of the era of globalization, intricately mingling lives and countries, and finding unexpected and sometimes tragic connections between the seemingly disparate. The violent fate of Kashmir recalls Strasbourg’s experience in World War Two; Resistance heroism against the Nazis counterpoints Al-Qaeda’s terror in Pakistan, North Africa and the Philippines. 1960s Pachigam is not so far from post-war London, or the Hollywood-driven present-day Los Angeles where Max’s daughter by Boonyi, India Ophuls, beautiful, strong-willed, modern, waits, as vengeance plays itself out.

A powerful love story, intensely political and historically informed, Shalimar the Clown is also profoundly human, an involving story of people’s lives, desires and crises – India Ophuls’ desperate search for her real mother, for example; Max’s wife’s attempts to deal with his philandering – as well as, in typical Rushdie fashion, a magical tale where the dead speak and the future can be foreseen.

Shalimar the Clown is steeped in both the Hindu epic Ramayana and the great European novelists, melding the storytelling traditions of east and west into a magnificently fruitful blend – and serves, itself, as a corrective to the destructive clashes of values it scorchingly depicts. Enthralling, comic and amazingly abundant, it will no doubt come to be seen as one of the key books of our time.

The second portent came on the morning of the murder, when Shalimar the driver approached Max Ophuls at breakfast, handed him his schedule card for the day, and gave in his notice. The ambassador’s drivers tended to be short-term appointees, inclined to move on to new adventures in pornography or hairdressing, and Max was inured to the cycle of acquisition and loss. This time, however, he was shaken, though he did not care to show it. He concentrated on his day’s appointments, trying not to let the card shake. He knew Shalimar’s real name. He knew the village he came from and the story of his life. He knew the intimate connection between his own scandalous past and this grave unscandalous man who never laughed in spite of the creased eyes that hinted at a happier past, this man with a gymnast’s body and a tragedian’s face who had slowly become more of a valet than a mere driver, a silent yet utterly solicitous body servant who understood what Max needed before he knew it himself, the lighted cigar that materialized just as he was reaching for the humidor, the right cuff-links that were laid out on his bed each morning with the perfect shirt, the ideal temperature for his bathwater, the right times to be absent as well as the correct moments to appear. The ambassador was carried back to his Strasbourgeois childhood years in a Belle Époque mansion near the now-destroyed old synagogue, and found himself marvelling at the rebirth in this man from a distant mountain valley. . . .

—from Shalimar the Clown

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