Excursions Of A Bibliophile

What are u reading these days?

Haroun And The Sea Of Stories — Salman Rushdie — A review

Posted by Vish Mangalapalli on June 9, 2008

There are times when you whack yourself on head for not having read a book earlier or not explored a writer to a detail that would have given you a good picture of the writer’s capabilities and his literary output. With the reading of Sulman Rushdie’s “Haroun And The Sea Of Stories” I had an occasion to do the same. Even the “Booker of the Bookers” fame and popularity of Rushdie’s “The Midnight’s Children” did not goad me to explore Rushdie’s oeuvre. The only other book of Rusdie that I read was his collection of essays called “Imaginary Homelands“. I have read this book long ago and was left with an impression that despite the controversial side of this writer there was also a side that included profound learning, depth and a grand appreciation of various aspects of literature and other contemporary events. It is a shame that I loaned this wonderful book to a friend and never managed to get it back. Not for nothing is it said that the three forbidden things for loaning out are money, women and books — once they go into another man’s hands they may never return (a crude translation of an old sanskrit saying)

Haroun And The Sea Of Stories” is many things at once — a word of caution on the consequences of imposing limits on freedom to imagine things and state them, a son’s daring attempt to rescue his father and above all a great story in the league of a charming Arabian tale. Rushdie is undoubtedly a fantastic story teller with all the essential qualities of a good story teller in abundance — inventiveness of the story, nice plot, a charming way with language, attractive and appropriate characters, whooping twists and turns and humour — all combined optimally to make a thoroughly enjoyable read

An interesting aspect of “Haroun And The Sea Of Stories” is its defiance to be classified into a book for any specific age category — it is a story that can be read by, read to and enjoyed by one and all alike. I tried this on my two little kids and for a couple of days they were all “land of gup“, “land of chup“, “Prince Bolo“, “Princess Batcheat“, The wicked but silent goddess “Bezaban” and the evil king “Khattum Shud“, “Gopi” and “Bagha” (2 characters who had their appearance first in a Satyajit Ray’s wonderful movie “Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne“). To enhance the reading pleasure Rushdie also added some wonderful rhymes which are full of humour and contextual (you can chop Kar-a-tee, you can chop suey… you can chop… but you cant chop me)

There are a lots of words in Urdu and some mannerisms of bollywood actors (especially in Prince Bolo) which I think would make the book a little less amenable to western readers to be able to catch the underlying humour. Notwithstanding this minor idiosyncrasy, I think “Haroun And The Sea Of Stories” is a great read and one hell of a story that can be told to everyone for a long time to come………………

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