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Shalimar the Clown

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  12,244 ratings  ·  868 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 September 6th 2005)
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Eugenio Negro I guess you've long since quit, but I suggest you take it up again soon. You are right to sense the only real failure of this book, which is the big…moreI guess you've long since quit, but I suggest you take it up again soon. You are right to sense the only real failure of this book, which is the big geopolitical dump that takes a while leading up to and after Ophuls' murder. But ah, once you get to Kashmir! For me, this is neck and neck with Satanic Verses for my favorite of his books, and certainly because of the unforgettable characters --don't give up yet!(less)
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3.88  · 
Rating details
 ·  12,244 ratings  ·  868 reviews

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(B) 75% | More than Satisfactory
Notes: It’s description-over-dialogue, nonlinear storytelling. A tedious read, owing to many lengthy and meandering asides.
Kevin Ansbro
At times, this rambling, rambunctious rollercoaster 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 transcendent. To offset this, there is pathos-a-plenty and at times the story is unbearably h
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
Gumble's Yard
May 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2005, 2019-mookse
Revisited for the 2019 Mookse Madness tournament.

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
Jun 14, 2007 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
Jun 24, 2007 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
Nov 09, 2008 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
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
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
Apr 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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
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
Oct 13, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: south-asia, fiction, india
A slow, intricate, multi-layered novel. Evocative of beloved places and anger and loss.
Jan 05, 2014 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
Nov 09, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008, library, quit
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
Aug 17, 2014 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
Nov 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Rushdie knows how to transform words into music. Not necessarily a comfortable or relaxing book, but definitely worth reading
Jul 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
One of the best of Rushdie's later novels.
Apr 05, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, autographed
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
I even dreamt of it.

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?

And so-

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
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  ·  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
Aug 13, 2010 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
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.



If you ask google(tm) for Rushdie pictures, most of them are of him in company with the beautiful India Padma Lakshmi. The persona 'India' in this dark tale is a symbolic device to show how Islam wishes to embrace the whole sub-continent.

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
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
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.
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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
“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.” 61 likes
“The inevitable triumph of illusion over reality that was the single most obvious truth about the history of the human race.” 27 likes
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