Writing on Air.,
This review is from: Shalimar The Clown (Paperback)
This has been my first reading of a Rushdie novel. Overall, I found it engaging and thought-provoking. The flawed emotional relationships of the main characters - for example, between Shalimar and Boonyi, a love mutating into a right of possession - has parallels with the cynical, geopolitical context within which much of the action takes place, i.e. the despoiling of Kashmir.
I found the novel to be a demanding read, in that the Kashmir elements, in particular, are infused with countless cultural and historic references, the pronunciation of which fell hard upon my unfamiliar Western ear. More generally, the reader must also be tolerant of swathes of narrative summary.
There is extensive use of magical realism, engendering an allegorical tone to the story-telling. However, the imagery is excellent throughout and the use of language masterful.
One aspect of the writing I found grating was the author's extensive use of casual English (that is, mainly American idioms) in representing the speech of Kashmir villagers. For example:
`... the two of them would sing their magic songs:
Lo, the wild young girl has her mild young guy,
Save them, God, from the evil eye.'
This stylistic choice marred my enjoyment of the long section named after the village girl Boonyi.
The ending of the novel is certainly very strong, pulling together the strands of the imaginative plot.
Four stars from me.