Shalimar the Clown
Notes: It’s description-over-dialogue, nonlinear storytelling. A tedious read, owing to many lengthy and meandering asides.
As you would expect from the great man, the humour is irreverent and the human imagery transcendent. To offset this, there is pathos-a-plenty and at times the story is unbearably h ...more
The book opens with the murder of Max Ophuls – a WWII Resistance hero from Strasbourg (itself a disputed territory fought over between Germans and French and so analogous to Kashmir), turned maker of many of the institutions of the modern world, turned initially popular ambassador to India turned America’s counter-terrorism chief. He is assassinated by his Kashmiri Muslim driver – a mysterious character called Shalimar the Clown.
The book tells th ...more
Wonderful. All of Rushdie's powers are at play here, but perhaps the most striking is his exploration of the social and psychological borderland between visceral, emotional impulse and ideological motivation. What motivates someone to become an assassin, a terrorist, a murderer? And in the enlongated moment of that decision, how do personal, emotional wounds gain political currency enough to justify killing someone? Or killing many people?
(For a second ther ...more
Sure enough, I'm finding Rushdie's authorial voice to be much like I remember it - extensive vocabulary, usage of magical realism/dreams/fantasies, strong character descriptions, and multi-cultural savvy that combine together seamlessly. For these reasons I'm finding the stor ...more
Rushdie is at full power in Shalimar. He combines his lush prose and diverse characters with political allegory and cultural savvy. Although it's ...more
Had anyone ever given us a non-fiction book about the issues related to Kashmir as raised in this book, we'd have probably abandoned it after 100 pages or so & I'm not lying or judging anyone when I say that, since that is pretty normal. That is perhaps since most of us have been watching the same thing over & ...more
The magical strand helps to creates a wonderful, unset ...more
In Shalimar, Rushdie focuses on the contested land of Kashmir before most of th ...more
This is a book that is ostentatiously about the transformation of a Kashmiri stage performer into a vengeful assassin, but ends up being about too many things. The plot is the scorned love of the protagonist and his Kashmiri dancer wife. An American ambassador to India, an illegitimate daughter (named India), and the consequent murder of the ambassador by Shalimar The Clown, complete the plotline. In between, while giving a remarkable insight into the Kas ...more
There is no doubt that this is a collection of beautiful sentences. The writing is vivid, lyrical, and evocative. Unfortunately it's mostly evocative of horror. The sections all pretty much start out "Here are some people. Horrible things happened to them. Let's examine their lives leading up to the horrible things." The Kashmir sections are the loveliest, I think, but that just makes the torture, rape, and systematic murder in them a ...more
And Shalimar the Clown is entertaining, witty, and snarky as it flies from LA to Alsace to Kashmir to the Philippines, seemingly wanting to suck every aspect of globalized society (fundamentalism, Bretton Woods, decolonization, interracial romance, you name it) up into its propeller. It's no ...more
A mournful lament of the paradise that was Kashmir ("a ruined paradise, not so much lost as smashed", says the blurb) wrapped in an enticing tale of love, loss, hatred, relegious extremism, power and that ubiquitous, terribly influential entity - luck. The writing is fabulous - at once evocative, captivating, heartbreaking and magical - and the characters are very real.
I read this book on cramped and somewhat-raining train journeys across the beautiful, pond-filled terrain of W ...more
Hear, hear: Rushdie is Márquez. That's the secret, that's the catch.
Shalimar started with invoking Agha Shahid Ali and Shakespeare. No index, non, what use would it be anyway in a masterpiece that follows but time reversal invariance?
There's General Kachwahha, who goes after our Chinar (another one bites the dust!) but was insane before it. We have Talib, another tragedian, whose name means knowledge and who has a boy to attend to his needs of the night and is in favo ...more
Rushdie’s latest work, Shalimar the Clown, is a clear example of what ails the novel today. Notwithstanding my disdain for page long sentences a ...more
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 ...more
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.
If you ask google(tm) for Rushdie pictures, most of them are of him in company with the beautiful
All in all though, this subject is like prodding a dirty finger nail into something that is already suppurating gore but 'what about the writing I hear you ask', it is beautiful I reply.
So what have I got to come away with - A worthwhile read that is beautiful ...more
Shalimar the Clown by Salman Rushdie (2005)
A few years ago a friend of mine gave me what was then Rushdie’s latest with a very lukewarm recommendation. As a result, I set it on my shelf for until such time as I had the time and motivation to plough through the man’s florid prose. I had just read his The Moor’s Last Sigh the previous year and was mildly impressed by the constancy of its themes and the unusual historical context, although the story itself did not have a whole lot goi ...more
His fourth novel, The Satanic Verses, led to protests from Muslims in several coun ...more