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3.39  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,269 Ratings  ·  149 Reviews
'A mixture of science fiction and folktale, past and future, primitive and present-day . . . Thunderous and touching.'
Financial Times

After drinking an elixir that bestows immortality upon him, a young Indian named Flapping Eagle spends the next seven hundred years sailing the seas with the blessing -- and ultimately the burden -- of living forever. Eventually, weary of the
Paperback, 320 pages
Published September 30th 2003 by Random House Trade Paperbacks (first published 1975)
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One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcí­a MárquezThe Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey NiffeneggerThe House of the Spirits by Isabel AllendeLike Water for Chocolate by Laura EsquivelLove in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez
Favorite Magical Realism Novels
191st out of 864 books — 3,978 voters
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39th out of 91 books — 40 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Petra X
May 05, 2015 Petra X rated it did not like it
This is a horrible book. Not even the author rates it! It is interesting only because Rushdie plays around with the magical realism that will play a major part in his writing and touches on themes he will later explore in much greater depth.

I don't recommend anyone who is thinking of reading Rushdie to think that as this is one of his shorter ones it would be a good one to start with, it really isn't a good read. Rather go for Shame with the wonderfully drawn character of the Virgin Ironpants (B
Taylor Kate Brown
A recipe:

Grimus, by Salman Rushdie

1 future famous author
30 helpings of Attar (see: Mantiq al-Tayr, aka "The Conference of the Birds")
1 love story
MIT's theoretical physics department circa 1985 and
a pinch of W.T.F

Bake for 10 years on high.

Serves 1.
The most remarkable thing about Grimus? Revelation that the great Salman Rushdie isn't good enough a writer to write SF.

Such lush prose, such splendid imagination, and such a wasted opportunity. "Incoherent" would be putting it mildly. "Garbled gibberish" would perhaps be somewhat more accurate description. The beginning of the story was intriguing (albeit bizarre), but pretty soon things started to seem more like someone's bad LSD trip, and then it got progressively worse. The "plot" was all o
No. Just no. Rushdie never lacked for imagination, and it is ample evidence here. But sometimes, all that imagination can go absolutely nowhere. This book not only feels like a fever dream, but also makes as much sense. Which is to say, not at all.

Flapping Eagle is an (Amer)Indian, who has been given a potion for immortality doesn't drink it. Then he does. Then he wanders around aimlessly for seven hundred years, during which he comes across a mysterious figure wielding a stone wand. Nothing ha
Jun 02, 2012 Lena rated it it was amazing
The most striking part of this story was that it presents a world in which people are aware that the world they inhabit is only one of a series of alternative worlds. The burden of immortality , with which the protagonist grapples throughout the novel, sheds light on the absurdity of our daily neccessary denial of our own mortality. This is shown through the idea of "dimension fever".The residents of Calf island are required to occupy themselves with a singular idea in an effort to preserve the ...more
Jan 20, 2016 Jen rated it really liked it
Shelves: 1001, 1001-challenge
3.5 stars
Grimus is Salman Rushdies first novel. Part fantasy, part folk-tale, and part science fiction, this book is a blend of mythology, mysticism, and religious symbolism. The book tells the tale of Flapping Eagle, a Native American man who becomes immortal and wanders the world for 777 years, 7 months, and 7 days until he attempts suicide and ends up in another world (a parallel dimension). The book is based on a 12th century Sufi poem and covers themes of human identity and meaning.

This wa
Jun 22, 2009 Maria rated it it was amazing
There are so many reason why I will feel a book is "good". Sometimes, it's simply the writing. If a writer can turn a phrase into something that just touches me in some way, THAT is a good book for me. Sometimes, it's just a character I come to love or a story I find intriguing. And sometimes, just sometimes, it's a book that just stays with me for no apparent reason that makes it good. This book's writing wasn't particularly moving, the story was just too bizarre to truly grasp, the characters ...more
Jul 02, 2012 Agnieszka rated it really liked it
Having read a couple of Rushdie's most acclaimed books before this one I expected "the usual" Rushdie style. It was nothing like this. The book is early, and his writing - undecided, not fully grown up. And that's precisely what I liked about it. I mean the story is crazy, and I like crazy. But the words, the writing style (someone might say: inmature) I would call open (yet). The sentences are rough, but the story - clear. Normally I would rate it 3 stars, but this early language, that leaves a ...more
Feb 01, 2016 Robert rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although Rushdie disowns his first novel, it is not that bad. In fact I see it a sort of potential for what was to follow in later novels. Saying that Grimus does have a lot of flaws.
The story focuses on Flapping Eagle, who drinks an elixir which gives him eternal life, given to him by his sister, who deserts him. After 777 years he wants mortality and to find his sister, eventually ending up on the metaphysical Calf Island. After meeting a bizarre cast of characters, while embarking on his two
Josie Shagwert
Apr 20, 2008 Josie Shagwert rated it did not like it
actually a horrible book. but even rushdie said that about it! it was his first novel, and really sucked. but it is worth reading because he wrote it - and if you are an aspiring author it should give you hope that you can write a piece of crap and come back to be an amazing and well-respected writer.
Paul Hamilton
Jul 25, 2011 Paul Hamilton rated it liked it
For an author who I've heard of spoken in such reverent tones for so long before finally acclimating myself to, my first exposure to Salman Rushdie's work was not at all revelatory. In retrospect, starting with Rushdie's first novel, Grimus, and one the author himself has spoken ill of, may not have been the most prudent way to experience the work of a storied novelist. And, truth be told, literary fiction as read voluntarily is kind of a new engagement for me though my initial choice to try Gri ...more
Jun 27, 2015 Nicola rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1001-books
What an incredible book for a first work! It may be trifle immature and a little puerile in parts but the vivid imagination behind it causes it to blaze out of the pages in glorious Technicolor.

I've always loved mythology and Grimus has its roots in this grand old tradition. Add in some mystery, a dash of scientific magic and human interest and shake it all together for a book that caught my interest from the start and never let it go. If this is what Salman Rushdie manages to write straight out
Apu Borealis
Jun 30, 2012 Apu Borealis rated it really liked it
A remarkably assured beginning for a first book. All the Rushdie hallmarks .. Flamboyant, vividly imagined, stylishly written, and science fiction or fantasy, to boot. I wonder why he chose this genre for his first outing. Perhaps he hadn't yet considered magic realism. Sci-fi's loss, mainstream's gain. Conversely, one wonders how many Booker-worthy writers are hiding their light under the bushels of genres considered not literary enough.
For some who think his fame is owed more to his life event
The debut of Rushdie was a fantasy novel which follows Flapping Eagle to Calf Islandlooking for his sister Bird Dog. Flapping Eagle has the gift of immortality which really is not something he desires but it makes it possible for him to make it to Calf. Calf is where people who have immortality go to live. The story touches on a variety of mythology of Sufi, Hindu, Christian and Norse and many concepts and philosophy. It was not well received but it isn't hard to read. It's not Rusdie's best but ...more
David Mills
Aug 29, 2015 David Mills rated it really liked it
Since its publication Rushdie's first novel has taken a rather stiff beating at the hands of critics. And while it is true that the author's gifts shine more brightly in his later novels, I think "Grimus" it is well worth reading for the following reasons.

1. Quirky Characters: One of Rushdie's virtues is that he peoples his novels with the most improbable individuals. Each is a wonderful collection of contradictions. Perhaps it is because they are so human that they are so engaging.

2. Great Stor
Aug 01, 2011 Ann rated it really liked it
yow. incredible journey. the first chapter was my favorite. my favorite moment? when the rocking chair stopped. beautiful & simple. loved reading it as it was rushdie's first foray into fantastic realms. i prefer his other works, but as rushdie's 'beginning,' found the read fascinating. i would say the read was more interesting than the end, but enjoyed it nonetheless. oh, and p.s.? there was a brilliant meta-moment about 2/3 of the way into the book. loved it.
Felix Purat
Mar 18, 2015 Felix Purat rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some people said in comments below that starting out with Salman Rushdie’s debut novel Grimus isn’t the best idea. But having read Haroun & The Sea of Stories and Shalimar the Clown beforehand, I decided to risk it anyway to begin journeying through Rushdie's pre-fatwa period.

Grimus is a strange book indeed. It has its weaknesses, as one can expect from a debut novel. Some parts of the story didn’t make sense, though the influence of what I thought was Joyce was evident and of course Joyce
Grimus strives for luminescence in poetry, philosophy and science fiction. But what it achieved was more of a garbled mess. Sometimes the prose became so tangled up in its own cleverness that I had a rough time figuring what was happening. The protagonist Flapping Eagle came off as such a pawn of fate that I found it difficult to feel anything but a kind of impatience about his behavior. Often, he simply did whatever he was told or he rebelled at the wrong moments. His pursuit of his sister, Bir ...more
Aug 27, 2010 Christine rated it really liked it
Rushdie critique's his own work in this book. Read carefully the debate between Gribbs, Elfrida, and Irna about whether stories should be well tied together or not. It seems to be the issue that Rushdie struggles with in his first novel. There are moments of mystery, but the drive to tie all the ends together makes it a bit too neat in the end.
May 14, 2015 Malwae rated it liked it
Recommends it for: People who like brain teasers, and fans of Greg Bear
Shelves: you-can-do-that
I haven't read a lot of Salman Rushdie, which is a bit embarrassing, especially considering that he wrote one of my very favorite books (Haroun and the Sea of Stories.) Grimus is clearly an early work, a bit rough around the edges in terms of plot and style, but I'm still glad I took the time to read it.

The plot is surreal and starts out fragmented. He uses a style of world building that gives things away only in little hints and clues, which is something I've come to appreciate after having slo
Meghan Fidler
Jan 16, 2014 Meghan Fidler rated it liked it
"--The simple fact, said Virgil Jones, is that Grimus is in possession of a stupendous piece of knowledge: that we live in one of an infinity of Dimensions. To accept the nature of the Dimensions involves changing, entirely, our ideas of what we are and what our world is like. The rewriting the book of morality and priorities from the beginning. What you must ask yourself is this: is there such a thing as too much knowledge? If a marvelous discovery is made whose effects one cannot control, shou ...more
Bradley Smith
Jan 23, 2011 Bradley Smith rated it it was amazing
While this book may be Rushdie's first, and therefore, lack some of the polish an genius he is known for, Grimus is a gripping and imaginative tale, which explores the human condition, gender, sexuality, and desire through immortality and its price.
Aug 28, 2014 Salvatore rated it liked it
An entertaining novel regarding the quest to destroy immortality. This novel's sense of humour is grand, depending on puns and anagrams; its story throbs with oddball characters, who get you to question their entire existences. Every interrogative has opposite answers, every person has his other, every action taken or not-taken exists. It's a playful, engaging look at cosmogony and the science-fictiony quest narrative that heaps in myths from a variety of cultures, styles that do their best to m ...more
#2015 Reading Challenge Group--Week 11: A book with a one-word title.

2.5 stars upgraded to 3. This is Rushdie's first effort, published in 1975. A fantasy/folk tale about a young Amerindian hermaphrodite who drinks a magic elixir and gains eternal life. After 777 years, he wants to end it all and learns of a way to reach another dimension through the sea. He is washed up on the shore of Calf Island where he begins a quest with his guide Virgil (yes, shades of Dante's travels through hell) to do
Mar 15, 2016 Luca rated it really liked it
The title of the book comes from an anagram of the legend of the Simurg , a poem written by a 12th century Persian Muslim Sufi mystical poet ,Farid al-din Attar, narrating the long voyage of a group of 31 birds in search for a god who lives on a mountain.They are worn out by the long journey and when they reach the sacred mountain they just discover they are God itself,the Simurg.
The book is different from others book I read from Rushdie , still , it contains in core some of his recurrent themes
Aug 06, 2015 Jeruen rated it it was ok
I guess everyone has to start somewhere, right?

While I have read several other novels by Salman Rushdie, which I loved, this one, which is his first published novel, just doesn't seem to make the cut. I have to say that this novel didn't give the best reading experience for me, knowing what his other books were like. It's not my most favorite Rushdie novel, and therefore if this book were the first novel of his I have read, I probably would not have read another Rushdie book. Hence, I am glad t
Jan 23, 2014 Kalika rated it liked it
I liked the narrative and the underlying assumption of how no culture can exist in isolation forever without self-destructing. That knowledge completes a being and a complete being can only be dead. I liked the attempt to frame it as a myth, and in fact, the literary and style references to various mythical traditions abound in the book. This is definitely not one for the hard-core sci-fi readers, I wouldn't ever classify it as one. My problem with the book is that the author tried too hard. If ...more
Ashwini Nocaste
Oct 11, 2013 Ashwini Nocaste rated it really liked it
Knowing Salman Rushdie for his flippant approach spiked with deep perspectives, that only grew in piquancy with each novel that came out of his flourishing pens, reviewing Grimus must have crafted in me a lens embellished with the knowledge of Salman Rushdie's trademark style drifting my scope away from a naked appraisal of Grimus as it must have been intended by the author way back in 1975. Regardless, it must be said that all the makings of trademark Rushdie can be felt enjoyably as one travel ...more
Mar 26, 2011 Chandler rated it really liked it
After reading "The Tiger's Wife" and being recovering from that disappointment, I found great comfort reading "Grimus: A Novel" by Salman Rushdie.

I generally love Rushdie and this book enforced that conviction. It involves travel between dimensions, immortality, gorfs, and anagrams. It was fun to rearrange letters to determine that gorfs were like frogs and that there is a cool anagram for dimensions, milky way universe and earth. What anagram does GRIMUS represent?

This book revolves around im
Grimus is the first novel by Salman Rushdie and it has been described as a science fiction/fantasy novel. The main character is an Axona Indian, Flapping Eagle, who drinks an immortality elixir and, after living for 777 years, 7 months and 7 days, proceeds through some sort of dimension gateway to a strange place called Calf (Kâf) Island, inhabited by a community of bizarre immortals. Intent on regaining his mortality, he sets out to scale the mountainous peak, to find and destroy the source of ...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 about Salman Rushdie...

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“man is sane only to the extent that he subscribes to a previously-agreed construction of reality.” 1 likes
“Unfortunately life has a way of sidetracking one’s greatest ambitions. Painters, would-be artists, end up whitewashing walls. Sculptors are forced to design toilets. Writers become critics or publicists. Archaeologists, like myself, can become gravediggers.” 0 likes
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