Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Shalimar the Clown” as Want to Read:
Shalimar the Clown
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Shalimar the Clown

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  11,280 Ratings  ·  809 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)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
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
Kevin Ansbro
At times, this rambling, rambunctious roller coaster of a read is feathered by the genius seen in Rushdie's Midnight's Children, at other times it becomes mired in an overload of Indian/Pakistani/Kashmiri political history, which is great for providing context, but stems the otherwise rampant flow of this terrific story.
As you would expect from the great man, the humour is irreverent and the human imagery is transcendent. To offset this, there is pathos-a-plenty and at times the story is unbeara
Jun 14, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 24, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 09, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
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 23, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: magical-realism
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
Ana  Vlădescu
This book has been a hell of a ride. When I started it, I had the feeling I wasn't going to enjoy it that much, but by page 100 I was hooked and so invested in the characters that it I felt like I made all of their decisions with them. The book is a political comentary on the conflict between Kashmir and India, but, through the depth of its characters' humanity, it is also much more than that: a story of love, hatred, feat and death. Just like any good story should be, a reminder of the diversit ...more
Mar 27, 2008 rated it it was ok
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
Dec 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: postmoderni
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
Apr 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shalimar the Clown is consummate Rushdie although with less magic realism than most of his books, particularly the most recent ‘Two year, eight months and twenty-eight nights’ which was just full on magic! There is so much in this book, starting with an assassination in California, to 1950’s Kashmir to the Second World War and the French resistance in Strasbourg and then back and forth between Kashmir and California.

In Shalimar, Rushdie focuses on the contested land of Kashmir before most of th
Apr 30, 2013 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
Jan 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Nov 09, 2008 rated it did not like it
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
Jun 07, 2012 rated it liked it
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
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
Mairita (Marii grāmatplaukts)
2,5 zvaigznes. Indiskais un Rušdi stils nav man, lai gan stāsts interesants.
Apr 05, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
With Salman Rushdie's fascinating novel, Shalimar the Clown I found it rather easy & often necessary to suspend disbelief, in part because this is no conventional story but rather an amazing fable that uses the fractious land of Kashmir as a metaphor for the India/Pakistan partition, Hindu/Moslem relations and perhaps the world at large. On the surface Shalimar the Clown appears as an updated, Kashmir-based Romeo & Juliet tale, seeming to portray an unsanctioned love affair between Shali ...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
Aug 26, 2008 rated it it was ok
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
Aug 13, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
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.


Aug 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Namitha Varma
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
Jun 24, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, south-asia, india
A slow, intricate, multi-layered novel. Evocative of beloved places and anger and loss.
Evan Ostryzniuk
May 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Ashwini Nocaste
Apr 18, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

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
Dec 16, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, 2012
Several years ago, I read The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie and felt very overwhelmed and outsmarted. I did enjoy the beautiful language but I think that I had problems with understanding the book because I didn’t know enough about Islam and maybe also, because I didn’t have a lot of experience with reading magical realism. Glimpses of that book has stayed with me, yet it still intimidated me enough to stay away from Rushdie’s novels ever since. So just like when I read Don DeLillo’s Falling ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Red Earth and Pouring Rain
  • The Impressionist
  • The Circle of Reason
  • Two Lives
  • Gertrude and Claudius
  • Oxygen
  • The Death of Vishnu
  • If You Are Afraid of Heights
  • The Raj Quartet (1): The Jewel in the Crown, The Day of the Scorpion
  • Deadkidsongs
  • Maps for Lost Lovers
  • The Last Song of Dusk
  • India: A Million Mutinies Now
  • The Harmony Silk Factory
  • Clear Light of Day
  • Raj
  • Being Indian: Inside the real India
  • Calcutta: Two Years in the City
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...

Share This Book

“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.” 56 likes
“The inevitable triumph of illusion over reality that was the single most obvious truth about the history of the human race.” 23 likes
More quotes…