Review: The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie

Where to begin with this novel? First, the prose & style: While I find Rushdie to be a supreme story-teller and master of language, it is sometimes difficult for me to enjoy reading his particular Indian-dialect English. The mix of cultural Indian-English grammar and style with lofty English vocabulary is, at times, uncomfortable and discombobulating. Also, Rushdie’s obsession with the eminence of London, England (as, like his writing style, is present in other works) is sometimes a bit much to swallow. I appreciate the author’s love for the particular progressive, comfortable culture indicative of and represented by the English, but the bias is almost too blatant to be meaningful. In terms of story/plot: I found it very difficult to get involved in the story, because it was all over the place. Not just in terms of setting and time, but characters were one thing and then another. “Home” was one place and then someplace else. I understand the appeal and the necessity, but the overall effect was so distracting and generally confusing, that it became difficult to care about any of these people or places. This is unfortunate, because the story itself, as it turns out, is really quite meaningful – not just in terms of the religious revelation (or disillusionment) but in terms of the psychological issues being addressed. Part of me sunk into this novel at times, and really dug in – roaring through the pages; but the book took some time to really finish, as certain elements were truly displeasing. Overall, I think the performance is solid and the awards/recognition well-deserved, though perhaps I am in disagreement with the reasons why (I prefer the final pages, where mental illness is at root, rather than the majority of the story which focuses on the religious …especially because this focus on the religious is eventually revealed to be a delusion). All-in-all, interesting and meaningful with moments of distraction and frustration.

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