Although the title may be confronting and off putting for many readers… I decided to read “The Satanic Verses” By Salman Rushdie. It definitely was not what I expected.
I don’t think I have ever read a book by an Indian Author, Mostly fascinated by European and American Authors, this came as a pleasant surprise.
Both from the context of Indian life and the life of Indians abroad, especially in the UK, it gave context for life of immigrants in the UK, their feeling of treatment by the English as well as feelings in India for the English, although this aspect of the book was secondary… or maybe not.
The title of the books relates to the schizophrenic thoughts and behaviour of an Indian actor, in context (not really understood till later in the book), I can see how this book drew so much controversy in the Muslim world, the author himself being subject off a fatwah for his writing. The thoughts of the author are fairly obvious, rejection of religion, the sanctity of “Holy” word, passed on by Muhammad – mouth of God… the book questions both the old context and rise of Islam as well as placing heavy weight on how someone claiming to speak for God would be received today… in the book, heavily Medicated and potentially institutionalised.
The books could be viewed as heretical by some, but it is quite beautiful, even though I found myself lost on the shifting realities of protagonists, the various foreign names, I found I lost track of who I was reading about every few pages. Parts of the book were overly sexualised , reminding me heavily of the works of Phillip Roth.
Apart from the religious context of the book, there were many human aspect that the author dealt with expertly, through love, jealousy, lust, loss & death – I found myself glued to nearly every page, I wanted to know how the author would tie the many ideas together, and in a way the author attempted to separate himself from some of it, by hiding behind a characters mental illness, and I think necessarily to avoid backlash from religious fanatics (allowing for deniability), I did not find any of it offensive, but then again it’s not my religion, many valid points that I have used myself speaking with devout friends and acquaintances… and it can easily relate to Christianity if one lets it. It also gives context to my own rantings about religion at times and the potential offence I may have caused in the past (some food for thought on a personal level).
Overall a quite brilliant book, sometimes comical, but not in the extreme. Apart from religion, it looks at immigration, with assimilation as well as as rejection of values placed by the host country… If you would want to see what life perhaps is like for foreigners in your country, I would highly recommend this book to you… if you have a strong stomach for the irreverent, I must warn you the first half of the books without context or guidance from the author can seem bizarre, well not seem, it is.
I am glad that I read it, never wise to judge a book by it’s cover or in this case “title”.