Only Rushdie could write this,
This review is from: Haroun and the Sea of Stories (Puffin Books) (Paperback)
This is a really intelligent book written in Rushdie's typically clever and lyrical way. Essentially a story about a boy upset by his parents splitting up and his father losing his ability to tell tall tales to besotted crowds, it is more a look at the importance of telling stories, told in a fairy-tale style whose simplicity masks the complex issues rippling underneath.
Young Haroun, ashamed of his father's storytelling, worries that it is this shame which has robbed his father of his gift. As a result, he ends up going on a journey into another world to find the source of all fictional tales, where he find a war going on between the worlds of light (the storytellers) and dark (those who would gladly have a world without such tales).
While this may sound extremely simplistic, this is just a two paragraph summary of a 200 page novel: Rushdie buries plenty more within the depths of his pages. He supposedly intended the book as an allegory for problems in India, although as this is an area I know next to nothing about, I read it more as an allegory for the fall of communism - a movement founded on a quicksand of fictitious propaganda attempting to mask a stranger-than-fiction reality.
It also reads as a defence of the art of fiction - the book appeared in 1990, which is two years after Rushdie was fatwaed for blasphemy and alleged misuse of the right to freedom of speech in The Satanic Verses.
It is an absolute delight to read, revelling in the possibilities of language and invention - my favourites are the plentimaw fishes with hundreds of mouths (yes, there are plentimaw fish in the sea). This may not be Rushdie's best-known work, but it is undoubtedly one of his best.