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The Satanic Verses: A Novel (Bestselling Backlist) [Paperback]

Salman Rushdie
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (94 customer reviews)

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Book Description

4 Feb 2002 Bestselling Backlist
When a jumbo jet blows apart above the English Channel, Gabreel and Saladin are two who survive and are washed up on an English beach. However, it soon becomes clear that curious changes have come over them and that they have been chosen as protagonists in the eternal struggle between God and the Devil. Salman Rushdie is the author of "Midnight's Children", winner of the 1981 Booker Prize, and "Shame".
--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 561 pages
  • Publisher: St Martin's Press; 1st Picador USA Ed edition (4 Feb 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312270828
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312270827
  • Product Dimensions: 21.1 x 14 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (94 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,141,556 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

No book in modern times has matched the uproar sparked by Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses, which earned its author a fatwa from Iran's Ayatollahs decreeing his death. Furore aside, it is a marvellously erudite study of good and evil, a feast of language served up by a writer at the height of his powers and a rollicking comic fable. The book begins with two Indians, Gibreel Farishta ("for fifteen years the biggest star in the history of the Indian movies") and Saladin Chamcha, a Bombay expatriate returning from his first visit to his homeland in 15 years, plummeting from the sky after the explosion of their jetliner, and proceeds through a series of metamorphoses, dreams and revelations. Rushdie's astonishing powers of invention are at their best in this Whitbread Prize winner. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.


"'A staggering achievement, brilliantly enjoyable' Nadine Gordimer" "'A masterpiece' Sunday Times" "'A novel of metamorphosis, hauntings, memories, hallucinations, revelations, advertising jingles and jokes. Rushdie has the power of description, and we succumb' The Times" "'Damnably entertaining and fiendishly ingenious. One of the very few current writers whose works are attempts at the great Bible, "the bright book of life" ' London Review of Books"

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Demanding, Highly Rewarding Read 26 July 2012
This is an amazing novel, which isn't given ample credit due to all the nonsense surrounding it.

It's not a breezy read. The prose is elaborate: expect long sentences and big words throughout. This is Rushdie's style, and some people don't like it, finding it impenetrable (or aren't bothered to penetrate it). But really get stuck in, because this is a brilliant novel.

The two main characters fall to England from an exploding plane, then undergo wacky transformations into a devil and an angel. Through their tortured London lives, Rushdie explores the migrant experience and the merging of people and cultures. Good and evil are entangled together in the characters of both men. The result is a vast, layered moral/social dialogue.

The narrative of the prophet Muhammed is genuinely brilliant. It caused a big - fatal - fuss, because it depicts Muhammed admitting the existence of the old Polytheistic deities, then taking it back. Rushdie also brings Muhammed's general reliability into question. For instance, he returns from a lonely ramble in the desert, proclaims to have been contacted by Allah, then gives orders accordingly. What's ingenius is that Rushdie never tries to convince us that Muhammed is a liar - he merely raises the prospect. We, as readers, form our own conclusions.

The story is genuinely engrossing and comic. The characters are deep and tortured. Some of the other reviewers on here seem to have been expecting a beach read. This certainly isn't - it's so much more than that!
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138 of 155 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Unique, yet confusing and frustrating 22 Dec 2009
By Mr. T. Pooley VINE VOICE
Salman Rushdie's "The Satanic Verses" has polarised opinion to an extent almost unprecedented in the modern era. Some people have viciously condemned the book for its "blasphemous" references to Islam and confusing narrative, while others have applauded the novel for its unique characters and clever storytelling. In reality however, although "The Satanic Verses" remains an intelligent work of fiction, it is ultimately a very difficult and frustrating read.

The story revolves around the two characters Gibreel Farishta and Saladin Chamcha who miraculously survive the destruction of an airliner jet. Upon falling thousands of feet through the sky and washing up on the shore of a small English town, Gibreel finds that he has acquired a halo while Saladin begins to develop hooves and horn-like appendages. What follows is an epic tale in which both men come to terms with their transformation, and what this all means in the world's eternal fight between good and evil.

The main problem with "The Satanic Verses" is the unique and original - yet extremely confusing - way in which it is written. Rushdie constantly shifts the narrative between numerous characters, subplots and realms of reality, which requires an awful lot of effort on the part of the reader in order to merely understand how the story is progressing. I have an A-level in English Literature and a postgraduate degree in Middle East studies and although I realise that this does not automatically make me an expert on the subject matter of this book, I believe that the difficulty I had in reading it reflects just how unnecessarily complex the storytelling is.

That said, there are a number of positive aspects to "The Satanic Verses".
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81 of 92 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Controversial but brilliant 29 July 2007
Don't you think it's about time you made up your own mind about the most controversial book of the modern era? If nothing else, it will give you an opinion the next time the media gets its knickers in a twist about what is, at the end of the day, a work of fiction

But it will give you so much more than that. There is everything you expect from a Salman Rushdie novel: vast in scope, vivid in portrayal and seriously bizarre. As the author has often pointed out, it is also darkly comic and often hilarious. It is a vastly satirical meditation on the theology of religion, the struggle between human doubt and belief and, above all, the power of stories to change the world. Themes of race and immigration flow through the book alongside the usual contemporary and classical references. Reading a Salman Rushdie book is like reading nothing else, he is wholesomely devious, wonderfully irreverent and completely unique. His is a style of writing brimming with delightful sentences, so beautifully worded as to be like some fabulous cocktail: refreshing and invigorating and with that little kick of something you know is truly special.

The story revolves around the lives of Gibreel Farishta, legend of Bollywood Cinema, and Saladin Chamcha, the voice of radio, the man of a thousand voices. When their plane is blown up by terrorists high above the English Channel they float slowly to earth, as though divinely spared certain death. It soon becomes apparent that there is more to their escape than meets the eye. For while Saladin Chamcha begins to sprout horns, cloven feet and a forked tail, Gibreel Farishta seems to be shrouded by the glow of a halo. Confronted with dreams of past prophets Gibreel sets out to change the world.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
and the furor was about what?? oh this was suppressed and not for us to know about...
Published 1 month ago by L. Hamilton
5.0 out of 5 stars Genius - in my top 100 books of all time.
A revelation to me, I have never read any of Salman Rushdie's work previously, but this is a work of genius.
Published 2 months ago by Phil
2.0 out of 5 stars It'll fill your time.
Very hard work, and a bit silly. I couldn't understand what all the fuss was about. Slightly irreverent, but worth a Jihad against Salman Rushdie? I don't think so.
Published 2 months ago by Mr. C. W. Hinks
1.0 out of 5 stars a difficult read.
a very individualistic author like no other, like marmite - you like or don't like. a very articulate and descriptive look at poetry, love but there was no Islamic intriegue which... Read more
Published 2 months ago by iangray
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Complex reading. Tiring!
Published 3 months ago by ED
4.0 out of 5 stars An Extraordinary Book
This is a quite extraordinary book. Both brilliant and frustrating. I was given Midnights Children last Christmas and loved it. So I couldn't wait to read The Satanic Verses. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Neilybags
4.0 out of 5 stars Struggled getting into it, but interesting and thought provoking when...
Struggled getting into it, but interesting and thought provoking when you do - worth reading about the political turmoil this caused before reading. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Rosalynd Jarrett
2.0 out of 5 stars Boring!!!
Far too complex for my simple mind, skipped through several sections just to get it over with quickly.

Not recommended unless you are a Rushdie fan.
Published 5 months ago by hrhnair
5.0 out of 5 stars Khomeini's choice of enemy evokes respect for Islam. Khomeini's choice...
I admit to having read this book largely because of the furor surrounding Khomeini's call for the death of the author. Read more
Published 5 months ago by W Greenhalf
3.0 out of 5 stars Not what I expected
A weird book with various stories that appear to interlink. I read this more out of curiosity than anything. Read more
Published 6 months ago by canberralover69
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