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Shalimar the Clown

3.83 of 5 stars 3.83  ·  rating details  ·  8,643 ratings  ·  665 reviews
This is the story of Maximilian Ophuls, America’s counterterrorism chief, one of the makers of the modern world; his Kashmiri Muslim driver and subsequent killer, a mysterious figure who calls himself Shalimar the clown; Max’s illegitimate daughter India; and a woman who links them, whose revelation finally explains them all. It is an epic narrative that moves from Califor...more
Paperback, 398 pages
Published October 10th 2006 by Random House Trade Paperbacks (first published 2005)
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Favorite Magical Realism Novels
60th out of 675 books — 3,458 voters
The God of Small Things by Arundhati RoyA Fine Balance by Rohinton MistryThe White Tiger by Aravind AdigaMidnight's Children by Salman RushdieThe Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
Best Indian Books
64th out of 536 books — 1,552 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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mark monday
a smart young lady trying to find herself in California. the assassination of her father - America's counterterrorism chief. a portrait of Kashmir before all the ugliness and horror. the life of a man: lawyer, Jew, printer, resistance fighter, diplomat, husband, lover, father. a portrait of Kashmir - the ugliness, the horror. the life of a man: acrobat, actor, husband, freedom fighter, terrorist, chauffeur, assassin. a courtroom drama. a tale of a guy who really knows how to handle himself in pr...more
Jan
After toiling through The Satanic Verses a few years ago, my overriding memory is of how little of the novel I understood. I was therefore reluctant to get stuck into Shalimar The Clown when my sister passed it on recently.

Sure enough, I'm finding Rushdie's authorial voice to be much like I remember it - extensive vocabulary, usage of magical realism/dreams/fantasies, strong character descriptions, and multi-cultural savvy that combine together seamlessly. For these reasons I'm finding the stor...more
Brian
My Review (in very "reviewy" language)
Wonderful. All of Rushdie's powers are at play here, but perhaps the most striking is his exploration of the social and psychological borderland between visceral, emotional impulse and ideological motivation. What motivates someone to become an assassin, a terrorist, a murderer? And in the enlongated moment of that decision, how do personal, emotional wounds gain political currency enough to justify killing someone? Or killing many people?

(For a second ther...more
Regine
Shalimar the Clown has been on my shelf collecting dust. While I do admit to having quite the crush on Rushdie, I get flashbacks from the utter disappointment I felt when I read The Satanic Verses. My friend, also a Rushdie aficionado, finally convinced me to pick it up and blow the dust off the covers. My love affair with Rushdie has been rekindled.

Rushdie is at full power in Shalimar. He combines his lush prose and diverse characters with political allegory and cultural savvy. Although it's...more
Zoe
Excellent book. For me, it started out painfully slow. I was not terribly interested in the first characters he introduced to me. Nor was I terribly interested in the story. CONTINUE READING! The histories of these characters are deep, deep, deep. Rich and beautiful language. By the quarter mark of the book I was completely riveted. For the first part of the book I found myself, irritatingly, asking, "when is he going to get to the point!" and the rest of the book eagerly asking, "what happens N...more
Gunjan
spit it out already rushdie!

some of this is just so long winded.

also, his descriptions of the character, "India," remind me of his first inkling of desire for his ex-wife,pseudo-human and nit-wit, padma lakshmi. sick.

and finally, if you're going to name one of your main characters after a sort of popular german film director, make sure your audience understands why. if anyone else has read this, what do max ophuls the director, max ophuls the main character, and kashmira from the story all have...more
Abhinav
I've been a reader for some time now & I've read a few good books but none of them have made me realise the power of fiction. Until now. Until I picked up 'Shalimar the Clown'.

Had anyone ever given us a non-fiction book about the issues related to Kashmir as raised in this book, we'd have probably abandoned it after 100 pages or so & I'm not lying or judging anyone when I say that, since that is pretty normal. That is perhaps since most of us have been watching the same thing over &...more
Zanna
I enjoyed this a lot. Compared to Rushdie's style in The Satanic Verses his magical realism here is more subtle and toned down to the point where it enhances rather than disrupting my suspension-of-disbelief. At one point magic even forms the case for the defence in a trial in an entirely believable way: the argument is, as my friend Alicia pointed out to me recently "If people define situations as real, they are real in their consequences".

The magical strand helps to creates a wonderful, unset...more
Andrew
May 07, 2013 Andrew added it
Shelves: indian-fiction
After reading some of the more explicitly fabulist works of Salman Rushdie, this feels so grounded in a world I know, even if it is populated by Kashmiri acting troupes and 64-course meals and potato witches.

And Shalimar the Clown is entertaining, witty, and snarky as it flies from LA to Alsace to Kashmir to the Philippines, seemingly wanting to suck every aspect of globalized society (fundamentalism, Bretton Woods, decolonization, interracial romance, you name it) up into its propeller. It's no...more
Nazish
All the time while I was reading this, I was specially reminded of the 'Kashmir Hour' broadcasted on PTV during the late 90s when the photos of mutilated bodies and wailing mothers used to repeatedly flash on the screen that made an 8 year old me cringe and get chilled to the bones. The fight for freedom was rich and loud while we dined and the TV blasted off songs of Humera Channa calling out to the world's justice. We had no other option to switch a different channel. We had to realise that th...more
Siddharth
Rating: 4.5 stars

A mournful lament of the paradise that was Kashmir ("a ruined paradise, not so much lost as smashed", says the blurb) wrapped in an enticing tale of love, loss, hatred, relegious extremism, power and that ubiquitous, terribly influential entity - luck. The writing is fabulous - at once evocative, captivating, heartbreaking and magical - and the characters are very real.

I read this book on cramped and somewhat-raining train journeys across the beautiful, pond-filled terrain of W...more
Jeremy Preacher
Joy keeps lending me books that I dislike in interesting ways.

There is no doubt that this is a collection of beautiful sentences. The writing is vivid, lyrical, and evocative. Unfortunately it's mostly evocative of horror. The sections all pretty much start out "Here are some people. Horrible things happened to them. Let's examine their lives leading up to the horrible things." The Kashmir sections are the loveliest, I think, but that just makes the torture, rape, and systematic murder in them a...more
NYLSpublishing
Dec 04, 2013 NYLSpublishing rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: not a soul
Recommended to NYLSpublishing by: NYLS Book Review
The publishing community has long believed that once authors achieve best seller status and their names become recognizable, subsequent works from these so fortunately knighted are bankable safe bets. Oh, how easily sprinting giants stumble when they lose sight of the path to reader bliss and focus, instead, on the desires of their marketing departments.

Rushdie’s latest work, Shalimar the Clown, is a clear example of what ails the novel today. Notwithstanding my disdain for page long sentences a...more
Heather
I just can't do it. I cannot concentrate enough on the style of writing to comprehend it. It hurts my head. I am not enjoying this, and I'm stopping on page 31. There is just TOO much allegory and similie and flowery-vision descriptive prose for me to truly take in this story. I know Salman Rushdie is supposed to be this big important prominent world author and everything, but I think the last time I felt like this about a book was when I ***HAD*** to read Faulkner in high school. Well, there's...more
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
I was so impressed by this book that it's taken me awhile to work out what to say.... primarily, what fascinated me was the grace and effortlessness with which it moves from one setting to another: a large chunk is set in Kashmir, covering much of the last half of the 20th century; another large chunk in Europe (primarily France) during the Second World War; the last chunk in Los Angeles in the 1990s. Each of these settings and historical periods is richly detailed; a lesser author would have ta...more
Kailash
A slow, ponderous and plodding narrative!

This is a book that is ostentatiously about the transformation of a Kashmiri stage performer into a vengeful assassin, but ends up being about too many things. The plot is the scorned love of the protagonist and his Kashmiri dancer wife. An American ambassador to India, an illegitimate daughter (named India), and the consequent murder of the ambassador by Shalimar The Clown, complete the plotline. In between, while giving a remarkable insight into the Kas...more
Bookmarks Magazine

Like some of the post-9/11 literature, Shalimar delves deep into the roots of terrorism and explores the turmoil generated by different faiths and cultures attempting to coexist. How can nations, Rushdie asks, go from near-peaceful ethnic and religious acceptance to violent conflict within a mere generation? Critics agree that Rushdie has brilliantly unraveled the construction of terrorists: some of them fight for ideas; others fight to fulfill vows or, if they are men, to reclaim their wives.

Sh

...more
Ashwini Sharma

http://thalukinglass.blogspot.in/2014...

I find it a slight problem to prepare my comments on any Salman Rushdie Novel as I grapple with the oft occurring issue of where to begin from and how to end what I have started. Presence of this issue acutely describes my ineffectiveness in conjuring apt words and phrases to encompass the entire essence/worlds/themes that Rushdie packages into a single story-line. Rushdie’s stories, (atleast in those ones that I have read so far), hop through continents a...more
Sze
there's enthralling rushdie (midnight's children), and maddening rushdie (the ground beneath her feet) - this one was somewhere in between. i got a bit tired of the mythology to be honest, but that sort of single-mindedness was a kind of magic.
Hadrian
A slow, intricate, multi-layered novel. Evocative of beloved places and anger and loss.
Toni Osborne
Maxmillian Ophuls a U.S. diplomat, who was formally stationed in the Kashmir Valley, is murdered by his former chauffeur, Shalimar, in broad day light on the doorstep of his illegitimate daughter India. The murder looks at first to be a political assassination but turns out to be personal.

Several flashbacks take the readers to the past. Shalimar, the clown, was once full of affection and deeply in love with Boonyi, a beautiful Hindu girl who he married. Things come to a turn when Maxmillian come...more
Ben Doeh
""I fear the house and garden will not last, without." [...] Without a woman's touch."

These lines say a lot about Shalimar as a novel. Rushdie is a conjurer of vanished worlds, who laughs bemusedly at, then laments the breakdown of relationships. The novel hinges around one particular betrayal - by a young Kashmiri girl who wishes to escape the confines of her magical cook-actor community for the modern world. She betrays that community that tried to protect her in their own, constricting way, a...more
Matthew
I have enjoyed every Rushdie novel I have read until this one. There is simply not enough action in this ramble, and it seems to me a good example of what happens when an author decides to tell instead of show in character development. This style of rambling fiction always runs this risk.

Throughout the first part of the book, whose only real concrete event is India's birthday car ride with her aging father, Rushdie would drift away into the minds of the characters and it quickly became tiresome....more
Alice Lee
I really wanted to like this book. In fact, I enjoyed it a great deal - until about half way (or two thirds of the way) through, when I found myself bored to tears, but plowed through anyway like a stubborn reader that I am, to - finally! - reach a brief stretch of smoother reading, and then at last (oh yay!) rewarded with an incredibly tepid ending.

Why didn't I like it more? I'm not sure. The writing was impeccable, from the first word to last. This is one of those books in which the setting is...more
Кремена Михайлова
Точно на страница 300 (от 600) си мислех: страниците наистина изтичат с лекота, но не изпитвам онази омагьосваща сила от „Среднощни деца“ или „Срам“ – които дори ми бяха по-трудни, но наистина по-омайващи… Дотук историята с девойката Индия и после с Буни ми изглеждаше леко куха, липсваше ми символичността на „магическия реализъм“, реалността и сладникавостта ми идваха в повече. (По-късно магическите елементи възприех по-скоро като чиста психология или „работа“ на (под)съзнанието, т.е. съвсем ест...more
Laurent
Mr Rushdie, I love you

As a 30-something year old heterosexual male, I'm not really in the habit of declaring publicly my love for another man but how can one resist when it come to Salman Rushdie. The vision, intellectualism and grandeur of his writing is truly stunning and it makes it hard not to love (his mind and imagination) in any case.

What other author can take you from the gloss of America to rural Kashmir whilst also incorporating a whole section of World War II? I absolutely loved Shami...more
Evan Ostryzniuk
Kashmiri Fates
Shalimar the Clown by Salman Rushdie (2005)

A few years ago a friend of mine gave me what was then Rushdie’s latest with a very lukewarm recommendation. As a result, I set it on my shelf for until such time as I had the time and motivation to plough through the man’s florid prose. I had just read his The Moor’s Last Sigh the previous year and was mildly impressed by the constancy of its themes and the unusual historical context, although the story itself did not have a whole lot goi...more
Dylan Popowicz
It's a twist of fate, but not one that seems ridiculous, or one to be dramatic simply for the shock of it, in fact, in reading this (whilst the butterfly effect, and the butterflies in your stomach, come to life) you'll suddenly find yourself aware of every living soul on the planet. Just as movies like Babel show the domino effect of a single action, "Shalimar the Clown" shows the great unison and culpability of all that breath.



And yet the message does not stem from this feeling. Whereas the m...more
Liz
This book is Rushie at his best. It is a blend of gritty realism with a psychological drama in which the convergent point between the three main protagonists is brief yet profoundly tragic in its consquences.

The lives of Shalimar and Boonyi, a couple from the village of Pachigam, are a metaphor for Kashmir. Initially we see them young and in love. Despite their religious difference (Boonyi is Hindu and Shalimar Muslim), both their families and the villagers support and protect their union. The...more
Natacha Martins
Não sei bem o que pensar deste novo romance do Salman Rushdie. Li-o com algum prazer, a história é interessante e prende. Temos sempre vontade de passar ao capítulo seguinte para sabermos mais um pouco das vidas de Max Ophuls, India Ophuls e do Shalimar. De que forma as vidas deles se entrelaçaram para que o desfecho, indicado no próprio prólogo, seja a trágica morte de Max, um homem nos seus oitentas e aparentemente inofensivo.
Deu-me gozo ler este livro e cheguei ao fim com a sensação de que ti...more
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Sir Ahmed Salman Rushdie is a novelist and essayist. Much of his early fiction is set at least partly on the Indian subcontinent. His style is often classified as magical realism, while a dominant theme of his work is the story of the many connections, disruptions and migrations between the Eastern and Western world.

His fourth novel, The Satanic Verses, led to protests from Muslims in several coun...more
More about Salman Rushdie...
Midnight's Children The Satanic Verses Haroun and the Sea of Stories The Enchantress Of Florence The Moor's Last Sigh

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“Our human tragedy is that we are unable to comprehend our experience, it slips through our fingers, we can't hold on to it, and the more time passes, the harder it gets...My father said that the natural world gave us explanations to compensate for the meanings we could not grasp. The slant of the cold sunlight on a winter pine, the music of water, an oar cutting the lake and the flight of birds, the mountains' nobility , the silence of the silence. We are given life but must accept that it is unattainable and rejoice in what can be held in the eye, the memory, the mind.” 38 likes
“The inevitable triumph of illusion over reality that was the single most obvious truth about the history of the human race.” 21 likes
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