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Khalifa Brothers #1

Haroun and the Sea of Stories

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Set in an exotic Eastern landscape peopled by magicians and fantastic talking animals, Salman Rushdie's classic children's novel Haroun and the Sea of Stories inhabits the same imaginative space as Gulliver's Travels, Alice in Wonderland, and The Wizard of Oz. In this captivating novel, Haroun sets out on an adventure to restore the poisoned source of the sea of stories. On the way, he encounters many foes, all intent on draining the sea of all its storytelling powers.

224 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 1990

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About the author

Salman Rushdie

130 books11k followers
The Satanic Verses (1988), novel of Indian-born British writer Salman Rushdie led Ruholla Khomeini, the ayatollah of Iran, to demand his execution and then forced him into hiding; his other works include Midnight's Children (1981), which won the Booker prize, and The Moor's Last Sigh (1995).

Sir Ahmed Salman Rushdie, a novelist and essayist, set much of his early fiction 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 led to some violent protests from Muslims in several countries. Faced with death threats and a fatwa (religious edict) issued by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, then Supreme Leader of Iran, which called for him to be killed, he spent nearly a decade largely underground, appearing in public only sporadically. In June 2007, he was appointed a Knight Bachelor for "services to literature", which "thrilled and humbled" him. In 2007, he began a five-year term as Distinguished Writer in Residence at Emory University.

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Profile Image for Cecily.
1,137 reviews4,175 followers
August 14, 2022
" What's the use of stories that aren't even true? "

I'm not quite sure why I picked this up (it's a children's book, and my "child" was 21 last week - perhaps I'm hankering for times past), but I'm glad I did. It has the powerful mythical feel of traditional fairy tales, with plenty of nods to classics, and a political undercurrent that tells of the time he wrote it.

It would be perfect to read to a child of around 7 to 10, over a couple of weeks (twelve equal chapters), but as a solo adult, I enjoyed the wistfulness of a childish read, coupled with something much more profound.

Before you start

I vaguely knew this was dedicated to his son, but didn't notice the actual dedication or consider the timeline. However, I wasn't far into the book before I felt compelled to check. It was published the year after the fatwa that sent Rushdie into hiding (though he'd long since split from his wife). His son, Zafar, was 10 or 11. In that context, the dedication is heartbreaking:

Zembla, Zenda, Xanadu:
All our dream-worlds may come true.
Fairy lands are fearsome too.
As I wander far from view
Read, and bring me home to you.

I also wish I'd noticed the pages at the back that explain the names of many of the characters, most of which are derived from Hindustani [sic].


The key message is the power and importance of stories, even if, or particularly because, they are not true. (You see the link to the fatwa?)

Haroun is the son of a great storyteller who loses the power of storytelling. The story is a quest to turn on the storywater tap. It is set in an "other" world, with a child as the hero. If this were an adult novel, it would be classed as magic realism. It has an old-fashioned and Indian feel, but also features robotic birds and passing mention of aliens, UFOs and moons.

I won't summarise the plot, but it has all the elements you want and expect from a book like this: fantastical creatures; enigmatic lyrical characters juxtaposed with logical prosaic ones; dashes of humour; a maze of corridors; mistaken identity; occasional puns and Malapropisms (pussy-collar-jee = psychology); love; betrayal; impossible dilemma; princess rescue; disorientation; lucid dreaming?; a battle; time dilation; derring-do; funny names; telepathy; wishes; a baddie who explains his plan to the captured hero; magic; a gadget (complete with arbitrary timeout).

Free speech - Je suis Haroun

This is about the fun of stories and the importance of believing even what you can't see, but it's not just about that. There is a clear message about the right to speak. The arch-enemy of all stories is also the arch-enemy of language itself - to the extent his followers have their lips stitched up. What could be a more powerful symbol of censorship that the "Sign of the Zipped Lips"?

" Is not the Power of Speech the greatest Power of all? Then surely it must be exercised to the full? "
Not forgetting this is a children's book, the example is a general who accepts insults and insubordination. The risk to those in power is that "inside every single story... there lies a world... that I cannot Rule."

But the importance of free speech doesn't mean one should always speak, unthinkingly. Haroun realises that "Silence has its own grace and beauty (just as speech can be graceless and ugly)... Actions could be as noble as words." As in so many things, we need discernment.

One of the problems Haroun encounters is the deliberate poisoning of the storywaters by dark forces. You can put an ecological spin on that, but it's not the main message.

Even a non-baddie has had some stories changed to make him the hero. Who owns our heritage? Can we rewrite it?

"The magic of the story can restore spirits."

Note: Although this was written in the aftermath of the fatwa, it's an issue Rushdie covered (less obviously) in his earlier novel Midnight's Children.

Literary links

These ones I spotted (there may well be others). It's only now I collate them that I realise quite how many I found; I may be guilty of over-analysing:

Douglas Adams
People always trust Rashid the storyteller "because he always admitted that everything he told them was completely untrue". Unlike the politicians who want him to speak at their rallies. This logical inversion is slightly like Wonko the Sane from So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish.

There is also P2C2E - a Process Too Complicated To Explain, which summoned H2G2 to mind.

Graham Green
On discovering his mother had left, Haroun's reaction was the rather tangential destruction of his clock. I was reminded of a short story called "A Shocking Accident" in which a boy, on learning his father was killed by a falling pig, asks what happened to the pig.

The Beatles
There are eggheads and a character called Walrus, but I didn't spot the carpenter.

The Floating Gardeners look rather like amphibious ents.

The Plentimaw Fishes are described as Hunger Artists (they swallow stories and then "create new stories in their digestive systems"). See A Hunger Artist.

The Shadow Warrior's first, spluttered utterances are "Googogol" and "Kafkafka".

His name is mentioned (alongside Kafka's). I've reviewed four of his tragi-comic and sometimes surreal stories HERE.

A boy page is actually a girl in disguise.

Lewis Carroll
The pages dressed like pages (rather than playing cards) and associated trumpets brought Wonderland to mind, as did the logical illogicality of organisations.

One character asks Haroun "Why make a fuss about this particular impossible thing?" The Red Queen famously "believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast".

Jonathan Swift
The antagonism between the Guppees and Chupwalas has echoes of that between the Houyhnhnms and the Yahoos.

Mary Tourtel et al
The Plentimaw Fishes talk in rhyming couplets, like the captions underneath each picture in Rupert Bear stories.

Philip Pullman
In the dark world, shadows can be separated from their owners - rather like Lyra and her daemon, Pantalaimon.

Monty Python or JM Barrie
A knight fighting his own shadow made me think of the dark knight in The Holy Grail, but given that he's not fighting his shadow, I suppose Peter Pan is the more obvious connection.

One Thousand and One Nights
There's a houseboat called Arabian Nights Plus One.

The Water Genie has a magic wrench, which Haroun takes, so the genie follows him round, helping him out, trying to get it back.

Joseph Conrad
The evil one "sits at the heart of darkness". (I might be trying too hard with that one; it's a common enough phrase.)

The Duchess of York (aka Sarah Ferguson)!
Pollution of the storywaters includes "an outbreak of talking helicopter anecdotes" and Budgie the Little Helicopter was published the year before this.


• The sad city, that had forgotten its name "stood by a mournful sea full of glumfish, which were so miserable to eat that they made people belch with melancholy even though the skies were blue."

• The Ocean of the Streams of Story: "because the stories were held here in fluid form, they retained the ability to change, to become new versions of themselves, to join up with other stories; so that unlike a library of books... [it] was not dead but alive."

• The Floating Gardeners do "maintenance... Untwisting twisted story streams. Also unlooping same. Weeding." They're also like hairdressers, because the longer stories are, the more likely they are to be tangled.

• "Pouring out of the portholes came darkness... [they] had invented artificial darkness." Shades(?) of the satrical Dark Sucker Theory: https://astro.uni-bonn.de/~dfischer/d...
Profile Image for Luís.
1,941 reviews606 followers
August 11, 2023
Everything went well in Haroun's life until his mother left with the neighbor, and Rachid, his father, and king of storytellers, lost his temper. But Rachid has contracts to respect: the 1st is a disaster, and Haroun fears the worst for the 2nd. But during the night preceding this fateful day, Haroun discovers the wondrous world of the sea of ​​tales, where he will live extraordinary adventures. Rachid found inspiration and Haroun (and his city) the joy of living;
It is a beautiful story that Salman Rushdie wrote for his son with kind geniuses, narrow-minded officials, crooked politicians, many fabulous characters, and an awful cult guru who wants poison tales. We can read this story on several levels: a simple entertaining fiction, a satire of some quirks of our modern society through not recommendable politicians or a scary cult guru, story of a loving son. He wants to do everything to help his dad.
I liked this story which smells sweetly of the magical tales of the past. I noted with amusement that the bird chosen by Haroun is the hoopoe which has been the guide bird par excellence since "The Conference of the Birds" by the Persian poet Farîd al-Dîn Attâr.
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
4,010 reviews595 followers
August 19, 2015
"What's the use of stories that aren't even true"?
This is a classified as a children's book...perfect to read to an 8-10 year old. Yet..
now that I've read it ..( chucking..,smiling...moved...and enriched)...I can't
wait 'to play' now with this novel. It's to be read over and over. Storytelling with your friends.
Want to lie back and be read to by a close friend while sitting under a tree?
Or ..are you the 'ham' who loves to read to an active listener? This book is filled with
imagination--so why not use a little of our own with it?

Rushdie wrote this book in dedication to his son, Zafar. Rushdie went into
in hiding when in 1989, "The Satanic Verses" was released. Riots broke out in several countries
and Rushdie was sentenced to death by Ayatollah Khomeini, the spiritual leader of the
Islamic Republic of Iran. He called upon Muslims to carry out his sentence. Later he
defended himself against the fatwa, a plea for freedom, thought and speech ... and expressing the value of imagination in literature.
This was the first novel ...'To Zafar'...that Rushdie wrote after "The Satanic Verses".

This story is about a celebrated storyteller, ( The Shah oh Blah"), who loses his talent for improvising stories when his wife leaves him. His son, Haroun, is unwillingly pulled into the
adventure involving an arduous journey to the sea of stories to vanquish a powerful enemies and reclaim his father's gift of gab.
Silence is the force of evil in this story. ( the squashing of language, fantasy, satire, even the truth itself).
There are allegories and light-hearted commentary woven into the tapestry. There are people
we must defend on principles such as freedom of expression.
The story is full of reflections about the importance and fantasy, myth, nature, and storytelling.
There's a treat for those who recognize the meaning of Indian words which are also given to most of the characters, and who know about the role of gestures, ( Mudra), made often
by green- painted performers in Indian Kathakali dancing.

Enchanting, profound, delightfully whimsical, and highly recommended for all ages!!!!
Profile Image for Nicholas Karpuk.
Author 4 books65 followers
September 29, 2008
"The Satanic Verses" bent my brain funny. I thought Rushdie had some good prose, the ideas were interesting, but the surrealism combined with moments of silliness made for an odd mix, and in the end I left satisfied but disoriented, like I'd eaten an exotic meal.

"Haroun and the Sea of Stories" was Rushdie's attempt to write a children's book for the son he was estranged from. There's a certain sadness to the tone of the book, wherein a storyteller loses his ability to do his job, and his son must travel through the world of stories to get it back.

Much like Clive Barker, I consider Rushdie to be a good author who should stay far away from children's writing. It brings out the worst in him. While the writing itself is good, it's goofy in ways that most children would probably find annoying, and lacks the depth or bite to keep most adults involved. Everyone has silly names, most of them have silly descriptions, and over all the book just felt frivolous.

Children's literature at its best can have real bite and emotional impact, but unfortunately Rushdie's effort feels like tourism to the genre. There's plenty to like about the author, I have "Midnight's Children" sitting on my to-do pile, but if anything else comes out from him with a children's book branding, I'm going to have to pass.
Profile Image for Peiman E iran.
1,429 reviews692 followers
April 17, 2017
‎دوستانِ گرانقدر، این کتاب از 233 صفحه تشکیل شده است و <سلمان رشدی> همچون داستان "آیات شیطانی" در این داستان نیز منظورش را در قالب داستانی خیالی بیان نموده است و شما میتوانید هر شخصیتِ تاریخی و مذهبی را که در ��هن دارید به جایِ عناصر داستان بنشانید
‎داستان در موردِ پسری به نامِ <هارون> میباشد که در کشورِ "الفبا" زندگی میکند و پدرش <رشید خلیفه> مشهورترین داستان سرا و افسانه سراست که به دو لقب مشهور است: یکی سلطان وراجی و دیگری دریایِ اندیشه
‎آنها در شهرِ "داستان" زندگی میکردند و مردم آنقدر غم و اندوه داشتند که نامِ شهر را فراموش کرده بودند و البته شما تا پایان داستان نمیدانید که نامِ شهرِ غم زده ، "داستان" یا همان به زبان هندی "کاهانی" میباشد
‎همسر <رشید خلیفه> و مادرِ <هارون> زنی آواز خوان به نامِ <ثریا> است که از آنجایی که شوهرش غرق در داستان سرایست، خانه و زندگی را ترک کرده و به همراه مردی به نامِ "سنگوپتا" فرار میکند و از آنجایی که در ساعت یازده فرار کرده، پدر تمام ساعت ها را در ساعت یازده خورد میکند و همین موضوع سبب میشود تا <هارون> هر یازده دقیقه یکبار افکارش به هم بریزد و البته خودِ <رشید خلیفه> نیز دیگر بیشتر از یازده دقیقه توان داستان سرایی را نداشته باشد
‎داستان حولِ محورِ موجودی زورگو به نامِ <ختمشد> که حاکم سرزمینِ خاموشی یا همان "چوپ" است و مبارزهٔ او با <هارون>، میگردد
‎این حاکم زورگو <ختمشد> رهبر آیینِ بی زبانی است و میخواهد تمام دنیا را وادار به پذیرفتنِ آیین و مذهبش کند
‎که گمان میرود منظور همان <محمد بن عبدالله> پیامبرِ تازیان باشد
‎در هر صورت <هارون> سفری عجیب و خیالی انجام داده و در داستان با موجوداتی عجیب و غریب نیز سر و کار دارد و هدهد نیز به او کمک میکند و مبارزه اش با <ختمشد> ادامه دار است و شاید چارهٔ دردهای <هارون> و خوشبختی اهالی شهرِ غم در دستانِ <شیر ماهی> باشد و او بتواند آرزوهایِ <هارون> را برآورده کند.... داستان و پایانِ آن را برایتان نمینویسم، شاید برخی از عزیزان قصدِ خواندنِ این کتاب را داشته باشند که صد البته من توصیه نمیکنم
‎در زیر جملاتی از کتاب را که شاید تأثیر گذار باشند را به انتخاب برایتان مینویسم
‎پایانهایِ خوش در داستانها و هچنین در زندگی بسیار نایاب تر از آن هستند که بیشترِ مردم فکر میکنند، میتوان گفت که آنها بیشتر استثنا هستند تا قاعده
‎مردم باید وقتی خوشحال باشند که واقعاً چیزی برایِ خوشحالی وجود داشته باشد، نه اینکه کسی شادی مصنوعی را از آسمان رویِ سرشان بریزد
‎امیدوارم این ریویو در جهتِ شناختِ این کتاب، کافی و مفید بوده باشه
‎<پیروز باشید و ایرانی>
Profile Image for Zanna.
676 reviews967 followers
February 9, 2015
Hurrah for diverse books, before I say another word. I loved how this book drew on Pakistani/Muslim stories and imagery, and I enjoyed the company of its young protagonist. I'm sure younger readers will too. I was interested to see how Rushdie would adapt his style, and it seems he did so by indulging his taste for cliché and word play as much and as fantastically as possible. The magic in this fantasy yarn is all rooted in language; figures of speech come to life and behave unpredictably, metaphors become literal, and the whole lot gets an embroidery of tasty colloquialisms. I think that's why I found it a bit overcooked, a little bit too self conscious.

Another reason it seems self conscious is perhaps its transparent agenda; it's a parable in defense of freedom of speech. The righteous army argue about their orders extensively. The General loves a good debate, he's delighted to listen to the discussion. Finally they all proceed with commitment. Ace! Orwell wrote about the same thing happening in real life in Homage to Catalonia - no discipline problems. As well as the right of citizens to dissent and challenge authority, Rushdie wants the rights of storytellers to tell it their way to be sacrosanct, severely rebuking attempts at political interference. And quite right too!

But when the story is so openly didactic, the writer ought, I feel, to be careful about other things too. I've written about Rushdie's male-oriented but creative writing of gender before, but here it strikes me as simply sloppy. I waited over 100 pages for an interesting female character, and I liked her when she arrived, but she had heavy work against the sexism of her culture and even against her author to make up for the barely-written faithless wife, the damsel in distress used for light relief (although Haroun challenged it rather weakly and ambiguously - but what is with this purity-of-fairytales angle? Seriously needed work!) and the mockery of Princess Batcheet for her physical attributes.
Profile Image for L.S. Popovich.
Author 2 books342 followers
January 7, 2020
I'm surprised that Viking listed this as a children's literature. There's nothing risque in it of course, and it is structured a little like Alice in Wonderland, but I think it will appeal to both children and adults with its playful style and malleable language. There are a lot of puns, rhymes and plentiful wordplay.

Rushdie is ceaselessly inventive, and his stories within stories are both traditionally complex, and compulsively readable. I quite like the central symbol of the source for all the world's stories. It is a thought-provoking concept. Where do our stories really come from? I think humans have a propensity for storytelling, that it is a social act. Yet it lives deeper in us as well, stemming from our beliefs in myths throughout history. Our reliance on stories is endless. Similarly, this book captures the fascination children have with stories and how this curiosity draws them to more deeply understand the world.

Readers will catch many literary references. Anyone who likes a fantastical tale will appreciate his dreamlike whimsy. What's more, this novel was in the same vein as Grace Lin's fantasy series. They both played with mythic concepts and applied the tropes to a nostalgic setting. Apparently, Haroun has a sequel. I will likely check it out, along with Rushdie's other, more intimidating novels.

I always took Rushdie for a serious fellow for some reason. I probably shouldn't lump him in with other award winners like Kundera, Eco or Pamuk. The more I learn about him the more unique his work appears. But this book proved to me that he has a sense of humor. That discovery will likely be reinforced in my later exploration of his oeuvre.

An easy start to an author I hope I will grow to love.
Profile Image for Rachel Aranda.
888 reviews2,266 followers
November 15, 2020
3-3.25 stars

It was nice to read a book inspired by Indian folklore as I don't get to read much of it. The best thing I could say about this book is what an imaginative read Mr. Salman Rushdie wrote. I liked how there was a bit of everything in this book: war, fantastical creatures, hint of romance that isn't the main thing in the story, family bonds tested, and friendships made. A lot of the places, creatures, and names of the characters are based on real Hindi words and places. It had some pretty exciting moments but I feel like I could have gotten more from the story. The ending just wrapped up a bit too neat without much questions about how everything came together. If things would have been more flushed out then the book could have been better.
Profile Image for Kevin Ansbro.
Author 5 books1,469 followers
August 15, 2017
A fantastically preposterous carpet ride with magicians, genies and goblins. An oceanic library of stories aimed primarily at children, but also likely to please adults who haven't yet succumbed to cynicism and whose imaginations haven't yet withered on life's vine.
Riotous, hugely imaginative and funny to its core.
Those of you who have young children, read this out loud to them at bedtime, for you will get just as much fun out of it as they will!
Profile Image for Mala.
158 reviews184 followers
February 17, 2018
Writers are not easy people to live with: Dickens, Henry Miller, Naipaul... the list is long. But when you read a book like Haroun and the Sea of Stories, you find yourself wishing there was a writer in the family! Imagine a book written exclusively for you, a poem dedicated to you- & centuries later people wondering 'Who was the Dark Lady of the Sonnets?', 'who was Lucy/Fanny Browne?' & so on!

Rushdie had dedicated his 'Midnight's Children' to his first-born Zafar, & he wanted another book written for him as well! Just like that.

A father's love for his son gave us this magical allegory: A little boy called Haroun, embarks upon an adventure of a lifetime so he could retrieve his storyteller father Rashid Khalifa 'The Shah of Blah's' inspiration as the latter lost it after a tragic personal setback. His adventure takes him to the earth's second moon called Kahani* (story), where he must meet The Walrus in the City of Gup (gossip) & request him not to disconnect his father's water supply from the Ocean of the Streams of Story. But the Gup City is facing imminent war from the City of Chup (silence), ruled by the ruthless Cultmaster Khattam-Shud (completely finished/ the end) under whose “Cult of Dumbness","the schools and law-courts and theatres are all closed now...because of the Silence Laws."

How art imitates life! Upon this breezy, comic tale hangs the dark clouds of Rushdie's fatwa years when the writer was shifting from place to place under assumed identities, constantly under death threat for his earlier book 'Satanic Verses', indeed questioning himself "What's the use of stories that are not even true?"

Isn't it a triumph of a writer's imagination & freedom of expression that from such a bleak phase emerged such a life-affirming, art-affirming work? And the fact that this heart-warming tale comes from the innocent perspective of a child who dares to say the emperor wears no clothes, makes it leave a lasting impression. I somehow kept thinking of the 'Bicycle Thieves': a father-son duo, desperately trying to salvage/cling to, some vestige of humanity that the cruel bleakness of a post-war world denies them. 'Haroun and the... ' doesn't have the neo-realism of Vittorio De Sica's  movie but don't let that magic realism fool you to the dark subtext.

Rushdie thus, has managed, the contradictions very well.
Doffing his hat at Arabian Nights, with a nod to The Wizard of Oz & a wink to Alice in Wonderland, Rushdie sprinkles his tale with magic dust, imbuing even a cynical adult like me with child-like wonder & joy :-)
Happily recommended!

* The names of most characters & places in this book are all based on a clever wordplay on 'speech' and 'silence', taken from Hindi & Urdu languages. A glossary at the end clears the concept for users of other languages but they'll still, somehow, miss the sheer fun of it.

Here is a review that I loved:
Profile Image for Michael Finocchiaro.
Author 3 books5,631 followers
October 14, 2016
Great kid's story - my son loved it. I thought that the language was clever and creative and enjoyed the pace. The characters were engaging, funny and a joy to follow. If you have a kid that is between 8 and 10 years old, they will love reading this book with you I am sure.
82 reviews18 followers
December 7, 2013
Salman Rushdie blew my mind with his magnum opus Midnight’s Children. I’ve been an ardent fan of him since I first read it last year. Then I read the allegedly blasphemous The Satanic Verses, which turned out to be quite a good book thought it was at first a tumultuous experience. I waited with bated breath for his memoir Joseph Anton, which I, unsurprisingly, devoured. And with Haroun, Rushdie has blown my mind again.

Rushdie wrote Haroun for his son during the fatwa. It’s quite incredible that he pulled off such an exuberant, phantasmagoric and absolute delight of a book during a time of extreme tribulation. Superficially it’s a beautiful tale about the adventures of a boy named Haroun Khalifa, hailing from a ‘sad’ city, the saddest of cities, a city so ruinously sad that it had forgotten its name. Deep down, it discusses matters of relevance such as the freedom of speech, the power of stories and the ones who tell them.

The prose is lovely and lucid. What makes Haroun even more memorable is the deft wordplay. Not a single word feels forced; everything fits wonderfully. Ah, Rushdie, you are indeed a wordsmith!

Sir Rushdie, you have survived the threats of the ruthless Khattam-Shud (read: Ayatollah Khomeini) and I hope you come up with more and more magnificent tales from the never-ending Sea of Stories.
Profile Image for Ken.
7 reviews2 followers
December 17, 2007
there is something about a story written for an adult audience as myth or child's tale that i love. it seems to be more concise, concentrated, and make the simplicity of good vs. bad, and having a moral seem beautiful rather than simplistic. maybe that is because dualities were more pristine as a child. rushdie's earlier works never captured me; "midnite's children" seem windy and ornate with insufficient structure to hold up the explainations. "haroun" is still written with all the mastery that rushdie shows as a writer, but this compression as a children's tale turns coal into a diamond. also, in rushdie's post "haroun" work he seems to be working with a greater sense of direction and structure. a great example of this for me was "ground beneath her feet"; while once again wordy, in my opinion, "ground" hung together as great art. while not well read enough to consider myself a rushdie scholar, i suspect that "haroun" is the pivotal career changing work of one of our age's most notable writers. so beyond being a great book, i think that it is an important book. more importantly though, it's fucking fun.
Profile Image for Майя Ставитская.
1,446 reviews141 followers
September 18, 2022
This is the way we bring him home. The idea to read a children's book by Salman Rushdie was an act of support for him in a wonderful book club. It doesn't matter that the writer will never know about the hundreds of thousands of people around the world who have opened his books in solidarity with him. One of them is a long-time fan, someone knows about the fatwa and has read one or two novels, someone heard his name for the first time in connection with the assassination attempt on August 12. It does not matter that he does not know, it is important that the thought is material, and together with the efforts of doctors, he works for recovery.

So "Harun and the sea of Stories", the first book after the fatwa, written in 1990, in a difficult and dark time when the author was hiding under the name Joseph Anton. The young man Harun lives in a city so sad that he even forgot his name: the inhabitants, sad, eat sullen eels and melancholy takes everyone. But Harun, the son of Rashid the storyteller, is happy, he has a loving family, a gentle mother Soreya and a kind father, listening to whose fairy tales, the residents of the sad city are somewhat encouraged. The father's profession may seem strange. but to some extent it reflects the boom of stand-up in the Western world of the eighties. The master of the conversational genre was well integrated into the reader's picture of the world.

Just like the sudden breakup of a family. The father, too busy with rehearsals and performances, did not notice how his wife was sad at first, then looked around, looking for someone who would appreciate her and show interest. And when both of them, Dad and the boy realized how serious it was, it was too late, Soreya ran away with their former neighbor. It happened at 11 a.m. and Harun broke all the clocks in the house, and his internal time seemed to stop at the "11" mark. He couldn't concentrate on anything for more than eleven minutes from now on. As for Rashid, he was left with a verbal gift. Access to the source of the stories was henceforth closed to him. It's such a start, realistic, isn't it?

В мире много сказок
Все выдуманные миры могут когда-нибудь сбыться, но помни - волшебные страны опасны. Когда потеряешь меня из виду, прочти это, и тем вернешь меня домой.
Так мы возвращаем его домой. Идея прочитать детскую книгу Салмана Рушди была актом поддержки ему в одном замечательном книжном клубе. Неважно, что писатель никогда не узнает о сотнях тысяч людей по всему миру, которые открыли его книги в знак солидарности с ним. Кто-то из них давний поклонник, кто-то знает о фетве и прочел один-два романа, кто-то впервые услышал его имя в связи с покушением 12 августа. Неважно, что он не узнает, важно, что мысль материальна, и вместе с усилиями врачей работает на выздоровление.

Итак "Гарун и море историй" , первая книга после вынесения фетвы, написанная в 1990, в тяжелое и мрачное время, когда автор скрывался под именем Джозеф Антон. Юноша Гарун живет в городе, до того печальном, что даже имя свое забыл: жители, грустя, едят угрюмых угрей и всех берет тоска. Но Гарун сын Рашида-сказителя счастлив, у него есть любящая семья, нежная мать Сорейя и добрый отец, слушая сказки которого, жители печального города несколько приободряются. Профессия отца может показаться странной. но в какой-то мере она отражает бум стендапа в западном мире восьмидесятых. Мастер разговорного жанра хорошо встраивался в картину мира читателя.

В точности, как внезапный распад семьи. Отец, слишком занятый репетициями и выступлениями, не заметил, как жена сначала загрустила, потом оглянулась по сторонам, ища того, кто оценит ее и проявит интерес. А когда оба они, папа и мальчик поняли, насколько все серьезно, было уже поздно, Сорейя сбежала с их бывшим соседом. Это случилось в 11 утра и Гарун разбил в доме все часы, а его внутреннее время словно бы остановилось на отметке "11". Дольше одиннадцати минут отныне он не мог ни на чем сосредоточиться. Что до Рашида - его оставил словесный дар. Доступ к источнику историй был отныне закрыт для него. Это такой зачин, реалистичный, правда?

А дальше будет сказка, Рушди в глубинной своей сути сказочник. Из десятка книг, прочитанных у него, не назову ни одной. в которой не было бы элемента фантастического, но обычно это все же вкрапления, подсвечивающие историю отблеском иных миров. Не то с этой повестью, в ней буйство красок, яркий и яростный колорит восточной сказки соединяется с книжностью сказки авторской, практически даже библиотечной - страна зовется Алфабой и всякий населенный пункт в ней обозначается литерой. История, со страниц которой ощутимо веет ветром перемен, разворачивающим былую Империю зла на путь добрососедства и сотрудничества (не забыли, в какое время написано? Перестройка. Горби, социализм-с-человеческим-лицом и вот это вот все).

Так вот, подобная история у любого другого рисковала превратиться в унылую агитку. Не у Рушди. У него получилась сказка со множеством милых деталей о мальчике, пускающемся в опасные приключения, чтобы вернуть отцу словесный дар. Кстати же. внимательный и неленивый читатель может сделать собственный вывод о происхождении слова "ахинея". Словари говорят о невыясненной этиологии, смутно связывая с "афинеей" - непонятным греческим. Но тому, кто прочтет "Гаруна и море историй" ясно же. что это напрямую связано с индоевропейским "абхинайя" - языком жеста в танце, посредством которого можно выразить сложные послания, понятные посвященному, но для профана танцующий "несет ахинею".

И еще одно, не могу не сказать о переводе, их два, я читала вариант Лимбус Пресс В.Тублина, для которого Виктор Топоров перевел стихотворные включения. Он превосходен, с цветистостью слога Рушди, с великолепными аллитерациями, чистая читательская радость. Я не нашла в интернетах более подробных сведений, но если это Валентин Тублин, спортивный писатель и переводчик, впоследствии тренировавший сборную Израиля по стрельбе из лука - мое удвоенное восхищение.

Прелестная сказка, здоровья любимому писателю.
Profile Image for Trudie.
544 reviews583 followers
December 1, 2020
I am plotting a fairly unusual course around Rushdie's works. I absolutely loved last years Booker prize-nominated Quichotte and the next logical step would probably be Midnight's Children instead of which I have gone for Rushdie's adventure tale for children.

Not being a child I probably can't rate this fairly as a work of children's literature. As an adult reader, I was pretty underwhelmed, I might even go so far as to say I actively disliked it. It is important to note I loathe allegory and random acts of rhyming, but those were not the things that tipped me over the edge. Mostly, I got rather tired of hearing about how ugly Princess Batcheat was and how wobbly and cuddly Miss Oneeta was. That left two other female characters - Soraya the cheating wife and Blabbermouth a pugnacious Page... hmmm there is a feminist studies essay in here somewhere.

Just not my thing.
Profile Image for Nandakishore Mridula.
1,255 reviews2,297 followers
October 29, 2022
Children's literature cannot be trivialised. Writing for children is no joke: the story has to be fresh, the language simple yet engaging, and the pace quick to hold the attention of these agile minds. The fact that a literary author like Salman Rushdie can do it with such consummate mastery speaks volumes about his command over the medium.

Haroun and the Sea of Stories is a story about stories and storytelling, harking back to the days when the bard sang his sagas to a captivated audience sprawled in front of him on the great open spaces, maybe under a full moon, maybe around a roaring campfire. Tales of sadness, tales of joy, and tales of valour; tragedies, comedies, and farces; stories about animals, about celestial beings, and about "ghoulies and ghosties and long-legged beasties and things which go bump in the night"... all flowed from the glib tongues of the professional storytellers.

This is the story of Haroun Khalifa, son of Rashid Khalifa, the official storyteller of a city so sad that it had forgotten its own name, in the country of Alifbay. Haroun and his family are the only happy family in the city, it seems, because of the endless hoard of tales stocked in Rashid's repertoire. To his fans, he is the "Ocean of Notions" but to his detractors, he is the "Shah of Blah".

Haroun's world comes crashing down one day when his mother Soraya runs away with a neighbour, and Rashid subsequently loses his gift of the gab. Disaster stares dad and son in the face when suddenly, a nocturnal adventure on the moon named 'Kahani', takes both of them to the very source of stories: the Ocean of the Streams of Stories. However, this world is on the verge of a catastrophe - its Great Story Sea is about to be poisoned by Khattam-Shud, the Cultmaster of Bezaban from the evil Land of Chup, where eternal darkness reigns. Princess Batcheat of the good kingdom of Gup has been also kidnapped by the evil Chupwalas, and is about to be sacrificed.

It falls upon Haroun, the water-genie Iff, the floating gardener Mali, Butt the hoopoe, Blabbermouth the page, Goopy and Bagha the plentimaw fishes and the Shah of Blah himself to save the day. They do it, with the leader's role played by Haroun - and how!

This is not just a tale for kids. The meta-narrative abounds with references to storytelling traditions around the world, and storytellers.

Haroun and Rashid - Haroun Rashid, the famous caliph from the Arabian Nights
Ocean of the Stream of Stories - the Katha-Sarith-Sagara.
Goopy and Bagha from Satyajit Ray's 'Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne'

Also, the names-

Princess Batcheat
Prince Bolo
Also Mudra, modelled on a Kathakali artist.

If you know Hindi, these tongue-in-cheek names are a riot!
Profile Image for Richard Derus.
2,971 reviews1,983 followers
December 7, 2019
Read at my girl's behest in, I think, 500BCE. A delight of a tale! Rushdie wrote the 2019 Booker shortlister Quichotte, which I disliked as much as I liked this book. I wonder if the audience focus of the two accounts for the disparity of response?
Profile Image for dianne b..
644 reviews107 followers
June 9, 2021
A rollicking story, perfect for a 12 year old (for whom it was written). Chock full of action, magic and word play. Plentimaw fish in the sea? Baddies and goodies, heroic maneuvers, hoopoe birds, and the importance of decisions by consensus.
And lots of Dad jokes:
Profile Image for Alegra Loewenstein.
Author 11 books2 followers
August 23, 2007
This is a kids book that really is just for kids. I know the editors' reviews tell you that it will change your life, change the world, or something else great. But, trust me, it's just a cute story.

Haroun's dad is a story teller. His life is happy until one day his mom leaves him and his dad and his dad can no longer tell stories. This puts the mat risk of losing everything because that's how they maek their money. They are invited to tell stories on behalf of politicians, and the night before Haroun's dad must tell the gretest story ever Haroun and his dad go on a magical journey (is it a dream?) to a magical land, where they save the sea of stories, the source of all the stories of the universe.

It's not bad. It's just that it lacks some level of subtely and cohesiveness that good books have. Even good kids' books. And it also lacks that "page turner" element that makes up for a book not being that great, becuase it somehow grabs you.

This book is easy, and it's very cute. It reminds me a great deal of The Phantom Tollbooth. THey both use puns and play on words, they both tell of magical journeys that change a young boy's life. But the jokes and play on words aren't all that funny (you have to know Hindi to get most of them), and get kind of old. You can finish it quickly, and you won't regret reading it. Still, you can probably find a book that you enjoy much more.
Profile Image for Emily Coffee and Commentary.
468 reviews153 followers
March 13, 2023
Bizarre and funny, this classic Children’s tale is an ode to the magic that stories give life. A larger than life adventure filled with memorable characters, Haroun and the Sea of Stories is fun and wholesome for readers of all ages, and is vastly imaginative.
Profile Image for Kristijan.
216 reviews66 followers
July 1, 2014
Upakovano u jednu razigranu i živopisnu bajku, Salman Ruždi nam pre svega govori o ljudskoj potrebi za pričama (hoću reći književnosti), koje daju čar ljudskom životu. Osim toga, ova bajka ne bi bila bajka da ne sadrži i večitu borbu dobra i zla - borbu protiv svega onoga što ljude koči i sprečava da budu srećni i zadovoljni. A tu su i moralne pouke o važnostima zajedništva, prijateljstva, ljubavi i porodice, začinjene simpatičnim gegovima i interesantnim i živopisnim likovima.

Harun i More priča je još jedan razlog više zašto volim prozu Salmana Ruždija. Njegov večiti flert sa mitom i magijom, kolorit u pejzažima i likovima kao i zvuci, mirisi, boje i ukusi koji dominiraju njegovim knjigama jednostavno potvrđuju da je čitanje svake njegove knjige poput zaranjanja u More priča...
Profile Image for Alli.
21 reviews
March 11, 2009
i hate this book!!!!!!!!!!! it's so bad- what with its unneccasary capitalization, cheesy, overdramatic-ness, and just plain being weird. ugh, so bad!!!!!!!!!!!!
Profile Image for Fabian.
956 reviews1,623 followers
August 23, 2020
Suddenly the literary bigwigs--I'll simply blame the mystically average time between millennium switches--they decided to go further. Excellent bodies of work, of cleaving unto Madame Zeitgeist, would be on hold temporarily for something avant garde (that is, for drama heavy realities that win awards and make average films): fantasy fiction. Many came to the call: American Michael Cunningham had his SPECIMEN DAYS, English Kazuo Ishiguro did THE BURIED GIANT. Canadian Margaret Atwood's MADDADAM TRILOGY began with the dreamy beast ORYX AND CRAKE. And Salman Rushdie followed one of the most controversial books since THE BIBLE, THE SATANIC VERSES, with the fairytale within its own world of wonder. HAROUN is as light as CANDIDE--heck, it succeeds in its own strangeness and its affecting humor: no wonder HAROUN has much to say, much to learn.

I really enjoyed reading this in one day. (Last time I did this, was....?) It would not let go, each character was engineered with much imagination, a function in a metaphor for good versus evil: damn if they dont all have speaking patterns, odd ways of saying things, and still get surprised as much as we with every twist and turn.
Profile Image for Ayse_.
155 reviews73 followers
February 20, 2017
Salman Rushdie wrote this book for his son, when he wasn't able to be with him. Its a book of fairytales describing the adventures of a father (who used to be a storyteller) and his son. There is a lot of impression from other books such as 1001 Arabian Nights, and other writers' and books' are also hinted in the story. The fun level is not so high but it is still an entertaining activity to read this book together with children.
Profile Image for Andris.
340 reviews56 followers
May 7, 2021
Šis aizgāja tik ļoti garām kasei, ka noslīkām pāris nodaļas pirms finiša.
Saprotu, ka literārā pasaka, bet arī man kā pieaugušajam nepatika - didaktiski un patukši.
Profile Image for Ravi Gangwani.
210 reviews104 followers
September 9, 2016
"There was a sad city, the saddest of cities, a city so ruinously sad that it had forgotten its name. It stood by a mournful sea full of glumfish, which were so miserable to eat that they made people belch with melancholy even though the skies were blue... In the north of the sad city stood mighty factories in which sadness was actually manufactured, packaged, and sent all over the world. Black smoke poured out of the chimneys of the sadness factories and hung over the city like the bad news. "

One day when I was ruffling through piles of books that I have, I found this book and read the above mentioned first two paragraphs of this book. The grip of narration was so fitting that I immediately decided to jump into the Sea of the Stories mentioned in the title.

Later on my further analysis I found this book Sir Salman Rushdie dedicated to his son, Zafar. And it all slithers into the world of Kahaani land. What I liked in the book was names given to the characters and places in the book: In the land of Kahaani, there was war between Gupwalah and Chupwalah in which the princess Baat-cheat was captivated by Khattam-Shudd ... And then concluded the battalion from Gupwalah - Prince Bolo, General Kitab, Blabbermouth etc. the army went to fight with Bezuban, and Chupwalah and their shadows, all living in the land of darkness, conspiring to pollute the sea where the sources of stories reside ... Meanwhile there is another parallel story of Haroun and his father Rashid steps on the door about how they emerged as champion in helping to conciliate the differences and to finally unite them.

Don't read it for story as it was very obvious, but read it with the heart of a child then only you will understand the underlying roots.
Profile Image for Ilja Leonard  Pfeijffer.
Author 62 books1,080 followers
October 1, 2021
A delightful fairytale, told by a master. As a children’s book it deserves to be a classic, but in the end that’s what it is: a children’s book. Of course everything gets a very special meaning because of what had just happened to the writer when he wrote this and the book can even be interpreted as an admirably lighthearted answer to the grimness of the fatwa, including a heartbreaking dedication to his son, but I’m afraid I’m too old to fully appreciate the deliberate naivety.
Profile Image for Megan Baxter.
985 reviews664 followers
February 16, 2015
In my typical way of not always respecting the order in which things were written, I read the follow-up book to Haroun and the Sea of Stories last year, and it came in as my second-favourite book of the year. Luka and the Fire of Life was one of those books that found a spot in my brain and nestled in like it had always belonged there.

Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here.

In the meantime, you can read the entire review at Smorgasbook
Profile Image for Shriya.
285 reviews166 followers
February 20, 2015
A fair warning: everybody might not like this succinct story full of references to the need as well as pointlessness of censorship and allegory for several problems existing in society today, especially in India and the Indian subcontinent. Yes, the novel contains an allegory of the fight between the imagination, the forces of freedom, and the forces of obscurantism. But then, much like 'Le Petit Prince', all these subtle hints are well-hidden to the eye inexperienced to the genre of Magical Realism. To readers in search of a casual read and unfamiliar with the fatwa of February 14, 1989, it may seem 'a pathetic attempt' of Sir Rushdie at Children's Literature. But this book was much more than a silly story written by an author to please his kid!
Not only is 'Haroun and the Sea of Stories' a powerful parable full of deeper meanings; in my eyes, it is also a wonderful successor of Baum's 'The Wizard of Oz', Tolkien's 'The Lord of the Rings', and Lewis Carroll's 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland' as well as the forerunner of our very own Mr. Harry Potter. (Don't believe me? Well, the Hoopoe and Buckbeak, the Chupwalas and the Dementors all seem like cater-cousins to me!)
But the best part of the book? Well, here it is: it shows that Rushdie still has pots and lots of stories to release in the Ocean of Tales which no Ayatollah can censor,not even with a thousand fatwas. Rather than retreating under the death threats, that he received after the much popular fatwa, Rushdie reiterates the importance of literature and celebrates the triumph of storytelling and imagination over raw power and dogmatism. It is this thought that makes 'Haroun and the Sea of Stories' a book worthy of five stars even if it's not 'the best Rushdie's given his fans'(which is a statement I don't agree with)!
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