“Language is courage: the ability to conceive a thought, to speak it, and by doing so to make it true.”
― Salman Rushdie, The Satanic Verses

Honoring Banned Books Week, I decided to write a review of The Satanic Verses. The Satanic Verses is Salman Rushdie’s fourth novel, first published in 1988 and inspired partly by the life of Muhammad. The title refers to the satanic verses, a group of Quranic verses that allow intercessory prayers to be made to three Pagan Meccan goddesses: Allāt, Uzza, and Manāt.

“When you throw everything up in the air anything becomes possible.”
― Salman Rushdie, The Satanic Verses

Very shortly about the plot, the novel centers two Indian Muslim actors who fall from the sky over the English Channel when the flight they are on is blown up by terrorists. Exciting right? Surprisingly, they both survive, and they take on the personalities of the archangel Gabriel (Gibreel Farista) and the devil (Saladin Chamcha). They and their personalities do their best to adapt to life in London. How to live an angelic life and what about an evil one.

“To be born again,’ sang Gibreal Farishta tumbling from the heaveans, ‘first you have to die. Ho ji! Ho ji! To land upon the bosomy earth, first one needs to fly Tat-taa! Takatun! How to ever smile again, if first you won’t cry? How to win the darling’s love mister, without a sigh?”
― Salman Rushdie, The Satanic Verses

I first read this novel because I knew that it had been banned and I thought reading it was a way to protest. This is a very difficult novel to read, I had to read it many times before I got most nuances. However, it’s very enjoyable book. It’s complex both in writing and in thinking. The plot is entertaining (plane crash), yet it’s not a plot book but a thought book. Rushdie’s novel questions, questions and disrupts.

“What kind of idea are you? Are you the kind that compromises, does deals, accomodates itself to society, aims to find a niche, to survive; or are you the cussed, bloody-minded, ramrod-backed type of damnfool notion that would rather break than sway with the breeze? – The kind that will almost certainly, ninety-nine times out of hundred, be smashed to bits; but, the hundredth time, will change the world.”
― Salman Rushdie, The Satanic Verses

I like very very many things about this book, however, I’m not the biggest fan of magical realism. It confuses me and makes it very hard to concentrate on a book because you keep thinking about what the author wanted to say and about all the possible other meanings and I don’t like this complex books that take forever to read. It’s frustrating.

3,5/5 stars.

How-To Read The Satanic Verses
1. You have to be somewhat familiar with Islam and Indian culture, because otherwise, you won’t really get this book at all.
2. Novel mocks Islamic faith and Prophet Muhammad. And I guess it mocks faith in general. I didn’t find it too offensive. However, as of 2016 fatwa to kill Rushdie still stands and yet more money has been added to the bounty. Guess how big the bounty is? 3.3 million $. Translators of this novel have suffered or been killed even.
3. If you get past the magical realism confusion, you’ll find some parts of this extremely funny.
4. It’s a very long book, 500+ pages, and it’s a bit dense too. I think when I first read it, it took me half a year. The sentences are long, references to characters, names and places and other can be challenging for western reader.
5. You’ll like this if you like magical realism.

“Not all possibilities are open to us. The world is finite; our hopes spill over its rim.”
― Salman Rushdie, The Satanic Verses

Thoughts? Happy October!