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The Satanic Verses
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1001 Monthly Group Read > November {2008} Discussion -- THE SATANIC VERSES by Salman Rushdie

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Denise | 235 comments How's everybody doing with this one? I'm almost half-way through and really liking it. Although I suspect I am missing quite a few of the references. I do love the vitality of Rushdie's writing.

Katharine | 24 comments I am giving up with it! I just really can't get into it and am not enjoying it at all so I have decided to call it a day. I do hate not finishing a book but I find I am creating excuses not to read, which is so pointless! I will be interested to read everyones views of it.

Christina Stind | 183 comments I read it some years ago and I liked it but I didn't get all of it because I simply don't have the knowledge to understand it all and therefore didn't understand completely why it created all that controversy when it was published. However, google is your friend!, and I googled a lot after I was done reading it and found out that he named prostitutes after the prophet's wives and stuff like that so then I started to get why it was so provoking to some people.
I will definitely read it again and google even more...

message 4: by Sarah Jane (new) - added it

Sarah Jane Oh how funny. I've just started reading this one, before I even joined this group. What timing!

I'm on Part III right now. So far, with I and II read, I'm finding that there are chapters that I love, and others that I'm totally not into and sort of end up half-skimming.

mara | 220 comments Mod
Thank you Denise for starting. My computer crashed. I just finished with work and an surreptitiously posting :-) I might not be around much until I get a new machine.

Katherine, I had the same reaction. I am curious about why others like the book. I've actually read quite a few Rushdies and not one worked for me. I was hoping this would be it...but it's like some bad relationship/bad match I keep trying make work but it just doesn't...

I love the language in parts but it seems overdone. I guess if it were a design I'd call it busy/gaudy/decadent; it's like seeing something with a lot of sequins or flashing reindeer or something off Project runway that didn't quite work, whatever, forget the metaphors...I tried but didn't finish.

For that reason, though, I'm looking forward to what others say. What am I missing, I wonder?

Denise | 235 comments I had a little trouble in the first few pages keeping Chamcha and Gibreel straight. For some reason I was getting confused who was who. Once I had that sorted out, I was in for the ride.

Mara, I think busy/gaudy/decadent does fit, but for me it works. Then again, I love sequins (on other people). There is a rollicking quality to this book that I am currently appreciating. I never feel bad, though, if I don't like a book. I think Rushdie's style would not always work for me. Right now, it seems perfect.

Katharine, life is too short and reading time to precious to spend on a book you're not enjoying.

I am almost finished with the book and will be back soon to see if I can come up with anything to say about it.

Christina, keep us posted what google discoveries you make.

message 7: by [deleted user] (new)

With just 90 pages left I'm glad I didn't give up on this book. It was very tempting to give up, especially in the first 50-100 pages, but after those things finally started to happen. This won't be one of my favorites, maybe just too much of the busy/gaudy/decadent for me.

Deanne | 682 comments It created so much hype due to some of the sequences which dealt with Mohammed and as a result angered islamic leaders. Rushdie was placed under a fatwah, which was basically a death sentence and went into hiding for about 10 years. It was probably this that led to the book becoming a best seller.
I read the book about 2 years ago and found it hard going, why use 2 words when 100 will do. It's not my favourite Rushdie book, but it shows what controversy will do.

Chloe (countessofblooms) | 140 comments I feel much the same as Deanne- it's not my favorite Rushdie book (Midnight's Children, for the win) but I can appreciate the impact that it had.

I found that while I was a little interested in Farishta and Chamcha, the scenes that most interested me were those with Mahound and Baal. I almost wish that they would have been expanded into a bigger part of the story. I don't know, it's been two years since I've read this book and I'm still very unsure what my final thoughts on this book were.

I really enjoyed the scenes when Chamcha is riling up the Indian expats in London and the descriptions of the Bollywood film industry, but all in all think it's a bit of a scattershot book- very hit and miss.

message 10: by Tom (new)

Tom | 24 comments I remember when I read the book it seemed to me that everyone was concentrating on the Mahound sections and their supposed insults to Islam, but nobody was saying anything about the section that pretty nakedly attacks Khomeini himself.

Denise | 235 comments I was checking out some criticism of this book and I ran accross this site with notes on all the different allusions in the book:

I knew I was missing a lot, but I didn't have a clue how much. Fortunately for me, I didn't care. The story, or stories I should say, kept my interest even though plenty was going over my head.

Here's a quote from Rushdie himeself on the book:

"If The Satanic Verses is anything, it is a migrant's-eye view of the world. It is written from the very experience of uprooting, disjuncture and metamorphosis (slow or rapid, painful or pleasurable) that is the migrant condition, and from which, I believe, can be derived a metaphor for all humanity.
Standing at the centre of the novel is a group of characters most of whom are British Muslims, or not particularly religious persons of Muslim background, struggling with just the sort of great problems that have arisen to surround the book, problems of hybridization and ghettoization, of reconciling the old and the new. Those who oppose the novel most vociferously today are of the opinion that intermingling with a different culture will inevitably weaken and ruin their own. I am of the opposite opinion. The Satanic Verses celebrates hybridity, impurity, intermingling, the transformation that comes of new and unexpected combinations of human beings, cultures, ideas, politics, movies, songs. It rejoices in mongrelization and fears the absolutism of the Pure. Mélange, hotchpotch, a bit of this and a bit of that is how newness enters the world. It is the great possibility that mass migration gives the world, and I have tried to embrace it. The Satanic Verses is for change-by-fusion, change-by-conjoining. It is a love-song to our mongrel selves."

("In Good Faith" 394)

message 12: by Anna (new) - rated it 2 stars

Anna (lilfox) | 291 comments I had problems sorting out who is who and put away the book after reading a third of it.

message 13: by mara (new) - rated it 2 stars

mara | 220 comments Mod
Thank you, Denise, for the quote. Critics have pointed out that this book is kind of a mess organizationally. Stuff just happens and you don't know why. I wonder if this is part of a plan, maybe trying to make the novel's structure mirror life in that way. Maybe too esoteric for me.

Judith (jloucks) | 1203 comments Thanks for the quote and the critical site of the book.

I'm about 100 pages into it now, so I find Rushdie's comments (expressed above) to be exactly what I am beginning to get out of the book -- and a worthy theme it is! I'll miss most of what riled some Islamics, but I think I'll take in the overall story and point of the book all the same.

This is my first Rushdie, and I'm enjoying the style so far although I found it a bit difficult to get into. It's fun, light and serious all at the same time.

I'll check in again after I have read deeper into the story...

Denise | 235 comments Anna, I had trouble sorting out characters, too, but it seemed to work itself out for me eventually.

Mara, it seems odd that he would deliberately confuse his readers, but it's hard to say. With so many storylines running, I'm not sure what would have been the best way to organize it.

Judidth, if you like this one my guess is that you would really like Midnight's Children. My impression is that even diehard Rushdie fans don't care a lot for Satanic Verses. I don't know why I liked it so much.

Michelle (fireweaver) | 104 comments oh, the humanity! we're 10 days past the discussion start date, and i've been avoiding goodreads here since i'm not done with this dense brick of a book, and lo! it turns out none of us are. i've nearly put the damn thing down twice, then fallen utterly in love with a sentence here or a paragraph there. it's hilarious and witty and charming and trashy and (obviously) irreverent - why on earth can i just not get IN to this book!? i have a nagging feeling that it's NOT going to satisfyingly come together, even in some small fashion, by the end, that it will remain this muddled mess of delightful prose mashed in with boring sweeps of junk i unregretfully skim over.

i honestly can't tell if part of me likes it or the rest of me is just too stubborn to give up 300-something pages in.

message 17: by mara (new) - rated it 2 stars

mara | 220 comments Mod
Odd indeed! Maybe he didn't mean to confuse us but to make an impression, you know like abstract art. I blame my tiny brain for needing to look at something and understand what it is and what it means and to need to see order :-)

Michelle points out the delightful prose vs. the sweeps of bring junk (I hear you). I admit to giving up around the center of the book itself. But then I flipped to the last quarter and just reading random swathes - good stuff. I've enjoyed reading on that level - for the prose poetry. I'll have to come back and recommend a few pages/paragraphs.

Judith (jloucks) | 1203 comments Don't blame your brain, mara. All our brains seek order and meaning. It's a human brain function.

I am making slow progress for all the reasons given already, btw. This one will take awhile....

Denise | 235 comments I was going to skip this selection because I assumed it would be more of an undertaking than I was up for and my extreme-rusdie-fan friend said she could never get into this one, but there it was, sitting on the table in the used bookstore, the first thing I saw when I walked in. Then my job ended abruptly due to a sudden snowstorm and I found myself with a large chunk of time, solitude, and about a month's worth of laundry to do. I was able to sink into the novel without too much interruption and I ended up liking it a lot. However, I never got over the feeling a lot of it was going over my head.

Michelle, I always love how you phrase things and I think you captured the most common experience with this book here:
"i've nearly put the damn thing down twice, then fallen utterly in love with a sentence here or a paragraph there. it's hilarious and witty and charming and trashy and (obviously) irreverent"

Mara, I like the modern art image -- something with really bright colors.

Michelle (fireweaver) | 104 comments mara, i'm ditto-ing Judith here: i got a big ol' brain, and i still really really want things to make sense in some way.

Denise, thanks much for the kind words, and i hope things are soon back to ok with your job. i have the exact opposite issue, myself: i was in-between-jobs for a while, then started a new one at the end of last month. so amidst the busy swirl of starting over, a huge business trip, and a million other things to do, perhaps this just isn't escapist enough for me. ironically, i did start the book while on the *plane* ride out for that business trip (and ended up the same as i left, thank you very much).

but, by the numerous gods mentioned therein, i only have a few sections left to go and it WILL get done this long weekend!

message 21: by Kristen (new)

Kristen (ravenskya) Mine just came in the mail, so you are all WAY ahead of me... but I'm happy to at least have it... I pray I don't hate it.

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