Friday, June 25, 2010

Literary Bite: The Satanic Verses

Sorry for the lack of post yesterday. This week has been *unique* to say the very least.

Anywho, a day late but still relevant – here’s what I’m biting on in the literary sense this week: The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie. My book club chose this book (as our 3rd venture after 1984 and Brave New World) because it caused an international incident. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini of Iran issued a fatwa against Rushdie because of The Satanic Verses! You have to admire a guy who can write a fictional book that incites so much outrage that a state issues a death warrant for an individual. (Read more about the controversy here.)

But controversy aside, the book was a bit of a disappointment.

This is actually the third* Rushdie book I’ve read...and it will be the last. His style of “fantastic realism” is just not my thing. I don’t enjoy reading a book that doesn’t make any sense. For the first couple hundred pages, I wondered if it was me. I thought, maybe I’m just not smart enough to follow the story line? But that’s never happened to me before, and I think my reading comprehension is pretty solid…so I blame the book.

What can I say, I like knowing what’s going on! Through most of the book all I could think was Ugh! Damn you Salman Rushdie! Why are you wasting my time? It was frustrating because I almost understood what was happening, and when I did get what was going on, I liked it! I think to really appreciate the book, I would have to re-read it from the beginning...but there's no way I'm doing that. This is definitely the type of book that needs to be studied and dissected and analyzed to get the most out of it. There's obviously a lot of meaning hidden in the text, it just needs some serious teasing out.

By random coincidence, The Satanic Verses contained similar subject matter to The Inheritance of Loss. They both address racism and immigration and people struggling with their cultural identity.

I have a book club meeting on Sunday, so hopefully I will gain some appreciation and insights into why I should like The Satanic Verses.

Have you read it? Did you like it?

*I read Midnight’s Children a couple years ago, and recently read Haroun and the Sea of Stories.