Synopses & Reviews
In the small village of Pachigam, in India-occupied Kashmir, Shalimar is the village headman's son. By 14, he is an accomplished tightrope walker in the local performing troupe. Shalimar, a Muslim, falls in love with Boonyi, the daughter of a Hindu neighbor. When the two are caught trysting one night, the Pachigam council of elders decides that the two teenagers must marry to save face. Meanwhile Kashmir is becoming a battleground between the enemy nations of India and Pakistan. It is only a matter of time before the effects of this conflict will begin to unravel daily life in Pachigam. Max Ophulus, the newly-appointed American ambassador to India, visits Pachigam on a goodwill tour. He is treated to a performance by the village troupe, where Boonyi is the featured dancer. Max, an insatiable womanizer, woos Boonyi, and the two elope to New Delhi. Swearing revenge on Boonyi and her lover, Shalimar, abandons his role as circus performer and begins a journey that will take him halfway around the globe and into a complex moral confrontation.
"For Westerners, Rushdie's latest may be better heard than read. While readers might stumble over the Kashmiri, Indian and Pakistani names and accents, Mandvi glides right through them, allowing us to engage with Rushdie's well-wrought characters and sagas. Mandvi has a calm, quiet storyteller voice, often employing tempo to express emotional states and to make long, complex sentences entirely clear. In fact, one realizes he is nearly invisible (until he reads a few lines in a Romance language), leaving us to relish the sounds and images and rhythms of Rushdie's language. The book begins at the end, with the murder of the former American ambassador to India, Maximilian Ophuls, now a counterterrorist expert, then introduces his murderer, Shalimar the Clown, Kashmiri actor and acrobat-cum-terrorist, and Ophuls's illegitimate daughter, India, who brings the book to a conclusion as terror-filled and ambiguous as our own future. Suspense and tension are superbly built and layered through mythology and plots of lust and jealousy intertwined with cultural, religious, national and international affairs. Rushdie does get polemical for a while, even didactic; his writing in these sections sometimes sounds speechifying. Yet we come away with a mostly lyrical parable that offers us a way of grappling with the realities of our time and place, a way of refracting history through multiple lenses. Simultaneous release with the Random House hardcover (Reviews, July 25). (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
This sweeping new novel by the Booker Prize-winning author is a masterpiece in storytelling: a passionate and terrifying romance set against the religious and political conflicts of our age. Unabridged. 11 CDs.