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on 16 February 2014
To be honest, I wasn’t looking forward to this one as I didn’t know how Rushdie would handle telling a children’s story and I was totally surprised how wonderful it was. Haroun’s father is the greatest of all storytellers but one day something goes wrong and all his stories dry up, something that Haroun feels is his fault but he gets the chance to visit the Sea of Stories and to restore his father’s story tap.

And it’s as bizarre as that, unlike Valente which resists the modern, Rushdie includes machines and mechanisms that ground his imaginative world. Rather than being a lone child’s adventure Haroun has an unexpected family member around him. And that gives it a very different feel. Rushdie’s quirky characters mix with the sense of India (though one of initials and valleys) to create something completely removed from reality to form a place of pure storytelling pleasure. It’s not a dark tale, though are elements of ‘danger’ but nothing that’s going to scar small children. It has some nice, but not laboured, moral messages, especially about girls/women having to hide who they really are to get on in a man’s world and another about the power of stories to change the world.

If you have any imagination and you love a fairytale then Haroun and the Sea of Stories is one for you.
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on 13 June 2016
great book, transported to mythical india
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on 25 July 2017
Beautiful story, not only for children. Poetic, adventurous, magical, all of the best ingredients and of course great penmanship. A must read
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on 23 June 2016
An amusing story with lots of nuances.
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on 8 March 2017
Gentle and warm tale
Although meant for children themes resonate to the inner child in any adult!
Rushdie has mastery in this genre
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on 7 September 2014
A different and altogether enchanting story.
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on 31 December 2015
Haroun lives in the sad city of Alifbay with his storyteller father and mother until the day his life turns upside down. He goes on a quest that results from him accompanying his father, Rashid, to another political rally as the best storyteller. Any underlying allegory to why Alifbay is sad is not clear. This is one of the main problems I found with “Haroun and The Sea Of Stories” – references that were meant to be part of a fairy tale, or funny or meaningful, but which weren’t to me. They only slowed down the story’s flow.

Another thing that slowed the story down was the repetition of people and descriptions. The pronouncements seemed to be more Salman Rushdie saying, “Look at me! I’m a good children’s storyteller,” than of an author talking to children at their level. Such repetitions and attempts at humour seem directed to 7-9 year-olds level of reading. The best children’s books reach out to adults and children alike, e.g. Harry Potter. Not this one. Not in my books.

The other characters that populate this book include Water Genies, Butt the bird, Princess Batcheat and her adoring Prince Bolo, Plentimaw fish (there are plenty more fish in the sea), a gardener called Mali, and politicians who are measly and cheating.

What I think would have made the story more entertaining would be, in addition to less repetition, actual stories similar to the “Thousand Nights” of the Arabian Tales, more plot, a point to the fantasy elements to the story having a bearing on Haroun’s life and a less expedient resolution to the plot.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 13 October 2010
This book is an enchanting and profound fairy story in its own right; but it acquires an especial dimension of poignancy when we remember the context in which it was written. Salman Rushdie was in hiding after the Ayatollah Khomeini had issued the fatwa condemning Rushdie to death for having, in The Satanic Verses, played about with the story of the life of Mohammed; and he had called on faithful Muslims to carry out that sentence. In hiding, Salman was separated from his then eleven year old son Zafar and from his wife, the novelist Marianne Wiggins, who found the crisis in which her husband was involved as the result of his story telling such a strain on their relationship that, some time after The Satanic Verses was published, she announced that they were separating. Perhaps Rushdie, like Rashid (Haroun's father), had been so busy telling stories that he never noticed what it was doing to his family life.

Rushdie had defended himself against the fatwa, in part, with an impassioned plea for freedom of thought and speech and for not only the right to, but the value of, the imaginative faculties in literature.

This fairy story, written for Zafar, makes the same case. In it, the fear is expressed (but triumphantly met in this story) that the isolation of Rashid, "the Shah of Blah", would stifle his voice to a croak and disconnect him from the Ocean of Stories; the love is proclaimed which Salman has for the rich and colourful possibilities of story telling; the battle between him and the fundamentalists is shown in terms of the battle between Light and Darkness; the fantasy is that his son Zafar, alias Haroun, may rescue him and reunite him also with his wife Marianne, alias Soraya. It was surely Zafar's wishful fantasy also. Naturally in a story written for his son, it is Haroun and not Rashid who is the central character of the story. The story will delight Zafar; but it is probably only in later years that he would be able to take in the full meaning of the book.

The Ocean of Stories was on the planet Kahani (Indian for "story"), where a battle was fought out between two realms. A piece of machinery had prevented the planet from rotating, so that the sun never shone on the realm of physical and spiritual darkness. It was called Chup (Indian for "quiet"), and was governed by Khattam-Shud (Indian for "done for"), whose long-term objective was to poison the Ocean of Stories, which he has already managed to pollute, but he had not yet managed to plug the Well Spring itself. The realm of light, where the sun shone all the time, was called Gup (meaning "gossip" or "nonsense"). Its people argued about everything, and its army of Pages was rather chaotic until, in order to defend their freedom, they let themselves be organized into Chapters and Volumes: Rushdie believes that a good fight is best fought in print, and the Commander in Chief of the Guppee army is called Kitab (Indian for "book").

What wins the victory of Gup over Chup is a magic trick by which Haroun can wish for the sun to blaze on the dark side of Kahani, so that all the shadowy forces melt away. The trick has wrecked the machinery which has kept the people of Gup in perpetual light; when they repaired it, they came to a much more sensible arrangement and made the planet rotate in such a way that both sides of it had their share of light and darkness, of chatter and of quiet. Haroun had already found that darkness has its own beauty and interest: "'If Guppees and Chupwallas didn't hate each other so,' he thought, 'they might actually find each other pretty interesting. Opposites attract, as they say.'" The symbol of Yin and Yang springs to mind.

The story is full of reflections about freedom (with all its imperfections) and about the nature and importance of fantasy, myth and story-telling, about ecology and multi-culturalism, even about shadows in the Jungian sense. There is a special delight for those readers who recognize or are told the meaning of Indian words which are given as names to most of the characters, and who know about the role of gestures (mudra) made by often green-painted performers in Indian Kathakali dancing.
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on 7 March 2017
There is too much of fantasy dwelling, Lukaand the fire of life, Haroun and the sea of stone are ideal books for teenagers.
Two Years eight months and twenty-eight days can be classified as a book written in a strain of the Satanic Verse, without touching Islam.
I would say Rushdie's maturity in writing one would find in 'The Ground Beneath her Feet..
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on 12 September 2006
Plenty of fun to be had in this tale of a storyteller and his son. Rushdie imagines a world of light and dark, noise and silence, with some memorable characters and places. It's all done with great imagination and no small wit - reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland. Really, it's a children's storybook, but with plenty to keep the adults entertained as well.
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