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4.1 out of 5 stars
The Moor's Last Sigh
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on 23 November 2006
I've read several Rusdie books before over the years - Midnight's Children first, then the Ground Beneath Her Feet, and also Fury. Despite enjoying all three thoroughly (well, less so Fury, which disintegrates towards the end) I've never felt the compulsion that you get with some authors to read the entire oeuvre. A lot of people tell me that they find Rusdie hard to get into, and often give up in the first 100 pages. To do so is a great shame, as they will miss some wonderful story-telling, but I can understand their reasons - particularly with the Moor's Last Sigh. Initially, it feels a little too much like a re-hash of Midnight's children - the family saga told by the child who - as a result of the cirumstances of their birth - experiences life in a strange and unique manner. With Midnight's Children it was the special powers conferred on those born closest to the clock chime of India's independence, with Moor's Last Sigh it is the double-speed existence for our narrator - a 4 and 1/2 month pregnancy, and each year being two in his body's development.

Similarly, for the union of the grand parents in Midnight's Children (the bed sheet with holes through which, as young suitors, the grandfather slowly pieces together the appearance of the grandmother) we have, in Moor's Last Sigh, the first sexual encounter between mother and father on the spice sacks in a warehouse of the family business. On both occassions the metaphors involved stretch beyond breaking point. There is no denying that Rushdie is a wonderful writer, but at times in the Moor's Last Sigh, it tests the patience. There is meaning in every insignificant detail and thåt meanning is described playfully, and - frustratingly - at great length. It wears you down. Everything is just so loaded with metaphor, that the good ones merge into the ordinary and the bad and overwhelm you. This is Rushdie on full throttle, and no editor appears to be on hand to tell him to apply the brakes. If this is your first Rushdie it may seem glorious - I don't know - but after having read others, I often found it irritating. Particularly as, in the last 150 pages, the writing tightens, the plot come to the fore, we are left with a wonderfully atmospheric and vivid climax. The story itself is rich and strong and the conclusion so well handled that I couldn't help but look back and wish the whole book had been written with such control.

Good book if you can get past the opening few hundred pages, but not a classic, and not one to re-read, because the writing smothers the reader as often as it soars.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 6 July 2010
'The Moor's Last Sigh' follows the story of Moraes 'Moor' Zogoiby, as he tells the tumultuous history of his family and the series of chaotic events that have taken him from Bombay on a desperate quest to Spain. One of the main focuses of the story is his mother, a powerful figure and talented artist who painted a series of pictures of 'The Moor', a character inspired by family ancestry and also somewhat based on her son. Through a string of personal tragedies and national events, the Zogoiby family has been torn apart, and Moor seeks to show the reasons behind this to the reader, giving explanations that veer between the mundane and the magical.

The beauty of Rushdie's writing is the way that he describes things in just the right level of detail (intricate enough to paint the scene perfectly, whilst not bogging the reader down), connects the comparatively small personal events in the lives of his character with what is going on in the world as a whole, and also his dark humour. Somehow he manages to make the characters in the book somewhat responsible or at least complicit in events that affect the whole of India or even the world. I also like the way in which the reader is never sure whether the highly unusual, even magical occurrences that Moor describes are supposed to be taken seriously, or if he is just using them as a way of justifying or excusing people's actions.

This is the second Salman Rushdie book I have read, the first being 'Midnight's Children'. My first impressions are that he certainly has a distinctive style, and that these two books are similar in tone, themes, and even share a couple of characters.

Like 'Midnight's Children', the narrator of the story is a man who has grown up with exceptional powers/ characteristics that have had a strong effect on his life. He has also grown up with an extremely interesting, chaotic and somewhat tragic family life and history, and has been continuously influenced by a string of powerful females who have come into his life and altered its course dramatically. Other similarities between the books are the continuous references to and connections with major events happening in India at the time the book is set in, the way in which the narrator seems to have omniscience that enables him to retell his family history in explicit detail, and also that the fact that the narrator is hurriedly trying to tell his tale before his life comes to an untimely end.

Similarities aside, the books are telling two quite separate tales and are highly enjoyable in their own right. However, if you happen to have both books on hand, I would recommend that you read 'Midnight's Children' first. This will give you the pleasure of recognising a couple of characters and events that are mentioned. I should also mention that another factor that will help you understand and enjoy this book more fully is a knowledge of the culture and history of India. Having said that, you could still enjoy the book immensely without such knowledge, you would just probably not notice Rushdie's little in-jokes that crop up every now and then, and perhaps the realistic way he uses Indian-English may be lost upon you.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this book. It is wonderfully imaginative, excellently written and completely compelling. I will definitely be reading more Rushdie in the future.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 20 December 2012
Rushdie has an amazing English style . . . witty enough to make you think twice. This book is a hilariously funny account of growing up, which does feature Mumbai as a main character . . . and a complex plot behind how everyone got to Mumbai, a kind of comic epic. . . So, you laugh and laugh, and then you get to the end and it is painful and there is this kind of bitter aftertaste . . . In other words, the moral content of the narrative is presented in a way which makes you laugh and then makes you start to wonder how you missed the undertones . . . how does the wit and verve of the story-telling make us blind to some rather less pleasant things? Is this an example of how we can construct our own personal life-narratives to delude ourselves? . . . and other such serious philosophical questions . . . How does the "exoticism" of the tale take us outside of ourselves so that we can turn around and see what we have been blind to in ourselves? I am, at the moment, very intrigued by the construction of moral/practical arguments . . . and this book gives much sensuous pleasure in the process . . .
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 21 January 2013
Rushdie's most best, and most accessible novel. First serious post-fatwa book, it shows a more cynical Rushdie, who is less of a firebrand, but still deeply committed.
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on 9 October 2012
This was one of my earliest encounters with this allegedly difficult author. I found it beautifully poetic, wonderfully developed, skilfully atmospheric and totally engaging. I cannot understand why more people don't read his books. This is more approachable than Midnight's Children and I found it more enjoyable than The Satanic Verses, which I loved. If you enjoy Ian McEwan, Julian Barnes, even that master of pretensions, Martin Amis, then I would strongly recommend this. Great stuff.
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on 5 December 2014
I was in Cochin and thought it the ideal book, being set in this city the book was quite captivating for the first one third but once the moor becomes the central character I found it lost direction. Too much verbal wandering and a difficult plot to tie down. What was this book about? I just finished it and despite my masters degree in English literature, I really don't know
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on 30 March 2014
A cleverly written book with some great descriptions and language. BUT, it's just too much like hard work to read it. I persevered to the end and it felt like a chore that wasn't rewarded by the nonsensical closing chapters. Many will disagree, and I know Mr Rushdie has an excellent reputation as an author - but I feel he needs the services of a good editor.
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on 1 February 2015
I have read several salman rushdie novels.my first was midnight's children which is still my favourite novel. I think this is certainly my second favourite from the satanic verses, shalimar the clown, haroun and the sea of stories which is a children's book and also wonderful.
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This is the first Salman Rushdie book I have read and I was staggered by the beautiful writing, beautiful phrasing and the humour.
I could not book the book down!
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on 21 January 2015
Exactly what I wished for. Delivered promptly.
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