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Shalimar the Clown

3.85  ·  Rating Details  ·  10,376 Ratings  ·  758 Reviews
From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. 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 emo
Paperback, New Edition, 416 pages
Published October 5th 2006 by Vintage (first published 2005)
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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
Jul 22, 2007 Brian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 31, 2007 Jan rated it really liked it
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
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
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 &
Dec 01, 2008 Zoe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 08, 2014 Zanna rated it really liked it
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
Jun 03, 2008 Gunjan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Mircalla64 (free Liu Xiaobo)
ovvero storia del pagliaccio che si nasconde nel fanatico religioso

Shalimar il Clown è la storia della nascita del terrorismo jihadista nel Kashmir, terra di confine prima invasa dai soldati indiani, che stuprano come se non ci fosse niente di meglio per piegare una popolazione, e poi "difeso" dai fondamentalisti islamici, provenienti dal Pakistan, che trasformano una terra di pace e coesistenza in una roccaforte del terrorismo e lasciano le stesse macerie dell'esercito indiano...
il racconto è i
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
Jan 24, 2014 Nazish rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Aug 17, 2014 Siddharth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
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
2,5 zvaigznes. Indiskais un Rušdi stils nav man, lai gan stāsts interesants.
Sep 12, 2015 Karishma rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I started reading this book long ago and only finished it now, recently having been reminded of Kashmir by someone, I came back to it.

Interestingly enough, it's a tale of love and revenge and the lovers' broken hearts and desperate choices on the backdrop of the tragic history of Kashmir, which in Rushdie's occasionally stunning prose threatens to rip your heart out especially the poignant lyrical passage describing the destruction of the Kashmiri village of Pachigam.

This being Rushdie, there a
Johan Haneveld
Jun 14, 2015 Johan Haneveld rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The first book of Salman Rushdie that I read, this is an exhilerating journey through the 20th century, from Strassbourg before World War II to Los Angeles in the '90s. And across the world to the contested mountain region of Kashmir, that starts out like paradise on earth, with peace between the muslims and the hindus, and joy in food and art. But there's a snake in paradise, and the life of the valley, and the lifes of its inhabitants soon fall apart. Even with the magical elements in play, lo ...more
Sidharth Vardhan
Salman Rushdi is at his best when he is writing about Kashmir. It is as if you are suddenly taken to hills of Kashmir.
Where so much is said about Kashmir issue, most of it is biased inf favor of one party or other. Slaman Rushdi has been able to provide most neutral of all descriptions of the issue, I've come up with. He has managed to cover the whole history of place in a single story with out appearing to lecture.
For as much, I could have given him five stars.
It is true that this is no Midnig
Dec 04, 2013 NYLSpublishing rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 15, 2008 Heather rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: quit, library, 2008
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
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
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.


Namitha Varma
May 19, 2016 Namitha Varma rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: magical-realism
This book took me the longest time to read. 24 days! I've never had to spend so much time on a book in recent years. This is because the matter was heavy - lofty at times, surreal at times, silly at other times - and I've never read more detailed character studies in any other book. Rushdie blends history with myths, truth with fiction, and comes out with a terrific novel called Shalimar The Clown. Kashmir is the centre of this tale and holds together the narratives of India Ophuls aka Kashmira, ...more
Ashwini Nocaste
Apr 18, 2014 Ashwini Nocaste rated it really liked it

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
Jun 24, 2007 Sze rated it liked it
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.
Oct 14, 2011 Hadrian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, south-asia, india
A slow, intricate, multi-layered novel. Evocative of beloved places and anger and loss.
Apr 08, 2016 Pechi rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
All the Rushdie books that I've read before I began this one - The Ground Beneath Her Feet, Midnight's Children, Moor's Last Sigh, Enchantress of Florence, 2 years 8 months 28 nights, even Joseph Anton - have left me exhausted at the end and made me look forward to some ultra light reads that would give me some much needed relaxation. Some of his books were so tiring (I guess it is the unfinished Satanic Verses) that I dove directly for light-hearted children's books. But Shalimar the Clown is p ...more
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
Ben Doeh
Jan 19, 2016 Ben Doeh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
""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
Jun 13, 2010 Matthew rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
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.
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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 about Salman Rushdie...

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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.” 49 likes
“The inevitable triumph of illusion over reality that was the single most obvious truth about the history of the human race.” 24 likes
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