Julie's Reviews > Quichotte

Quichotte by Salman Rushdie
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really liked it
bookshelves: fiction, own, vine

Rushdie does not hold back in his Don Quixote-based satirical novel and it was a wild ride. Nothing is safe from his commentary: racism, opioid addiction, reality TV, technology. He lambasts them all.

There are two stories here – that of the author known as Brother, or his pseudonym Sam DuChamp, while the other is his own creation. Tired of mild success as a spy thriller writer, Brother embarks on his greatest literary achievement in writing about Quichotte and his quest for the love of a famous TV personality. Along the way Quichotte conjures a teenage son Sancho, they witnesses a fatal shooting, he reconciles with his sister, and they even encounters mastodon-transformed residents of a New Jersey town (very bizarre). “But Quichotte had warned [Sancho] that reality as they had understood the word would now cease to exist…”

Is Quichotte completely delusional in his pursuit of Salma R., the Indian actress turned Oprah-esque talk show host? Probably. But it was Salma’s back story that was even more intriguing because it led her to opioid addiction. Quichotte’s own cousin, Dr. Smile, is the head of the pharmaceutical behemoth responsible for inventing a powerful fentanyl spray that makes morphine seem like asprin. But prescribing pain medication to people like Salma who don’t really need it gets him into a lot of trouble. Add to the mix a tech billionaire with grand visions of saving the world from itself by sending humanity to alternate dimensions. The addition of a little science-fiction adds another layer of insanity to Quichotte’s already absurd quest.

While Quichotte’s story has magical realism aspects, Brother’s narrative is much more grounded, although often the two worlds mirror each other since Brother is using elements from his own life to create Quichotte. He also reconciles with his sister, but the consequences of their reunion are much more tragic. There’s a little side-plot with his own estranged son, which allows him to have his own quasi-spiritual journey.

As a whole, the book was a strange mash-up of genres and plots. It was occasionally goofy, often philosophic, and always smart. There were so many little nudge-nudge wink-winks throughout that I really had to pay attention to subtle connections. No doubt Rushdie is incredibly clever, but this book’s density and complexity might not appeal to everyone. Still, I enjoyed the quests of both Quichotte and Brother.

I received a complimentary copy of this book via the Amazon Vine program.

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Reading Progress

June 15, 2019 – Shelved
June 15, 2019 – Shelved as: to-read
June 15, 2019 – Shelved as: fiction
June 15, 2019 – Shelved as: own
June 15, 2019 – Shelved as: vine
July 3, 2019 – Started Reading
July 16, 2019 – Finished Reading

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