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The Satanic Verses
The Satanic Verses
Author: Salman Rushdie
No book in modern times has matched the uproar sparked by Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses, which earned its author a death sentence. Furor aside, it is a marvelously erudite study of good and evil, a feast of language served up by a writer at the height of his powers, and a rollicking comic fable. The book begins with two Indians, Gibreel Fa...  more »
ISBN: 46006
Pages: 547
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.

3.8 stars, based on 3 ratings
Publisher: Viking
Book Type: Paperback
Other Versions: Hardcover, Audio Cassette, Audio CD
Members Wishing: 0
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althea avatar reviewed The Satanic Verses on + 774 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 9
I'd been curious about this book for quite a while, obviously because of the publicity and controversy surrounding it.
My opinion: it's good. But it's certainly not worth dying for. (As a translator already has, and two others have barley survived assassination attempts).
Interestingly, the main focus of the book is not on religion, although it plays a part.
Mostly, I would say the book is about the experience of Indian - British immigrants. Rushdie explores the psychological conflicts through a story of two Indian men, both average, but one who's really rather a self-centered jerk. Falling from a plane which was victim to a terrorist attack, the two miraculously survive, but one becomes a sort of avatar of an angel, and one of a devil. Intertingly, the roles are reversed - the more 'decent' guy becomes the devil, growing horns, and the self-centered film star developing a halo.
In exploring these identities, especially that of the archangel Gibreel in Islamic mythology, is where Rushdie moves into supposedly 'blasphemous' territory, including a historical depiction of Mohammed, and a strong implication by the Prophet's personal scribe that he is a fraud, making up religious rules to suit his whims. There's also a funny, satirical episode where a brothel decides to make more money by having their whores role-play the parts of the Prophet's wives.
I suspect that Rushdie underestimated the response these scenes would get. It's pretty clear from the book that Rushdie is probably an atheist. But it's also very clear that the scenes in question are satire. They're almost incidental to the main plot of the book (which takes place in the present day), and also to the main
idea of the book, which has to do with the concepts of "Indian-ness" and "British-ness" and personal identity.
I'd say the novel is definitely worthwhile for its insights into human nature, but it does have a tendency to meander, and the colloquial language that Rushdie uses can occasionally come across as a bit too 'clever.'
reviewed The Satanic Verses on
Helpful Score: 4
Without any real knowledge of Indian culture or the Qur'an, it was clear halfway through that I was missing a vast majority of the meaning of the text. If I had some base in these fields, I think I'd enjoy this book much more. Without this info I didn't find the book very interesting (I stopped halfway through).
reviewed The Satanic Verses on
Helpful Score: 3
This is one of my favorite Rushdie books, second to "Shalimar the Clown." I love magical realism, and Rushdie is the genre's master. It's a beautiful and fantastical tale!
kayprime avatar reviewed The Satanic Verses on + 38 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
The premise of this book is solid and the story's beginning is powerful. (Opening line: "To be born again," sang Gibreel Farishta tumbling from the heavens, "first you have to die...") The imaginative approach to the battle of good and evil is done from an unconventional viewpoint that can never be explored thoroughly enough. Rushdie's writing is superb and his portrayal of Islamic belief and Indian culture gives the book an intimate and authentic voice.

For all of it's attributes and the high expectations I had for a book that illicited a religious edict ordering the author's death, ultimately I am disappointed. Although his story is sufficient- above average, even- I wasn't blown away. I was expecting an epic battle (symbolic or otherwise) that blurred the lines of good and evil, exposing the gray areas. Instead, aside from Farishta's incarnation in Jahilia with the prophet Mahound (which incited the rage of the ayatollah), there aren't very many compelling depictions of the ambiguous nature of good and evil.

Secondly, the constant back-and-forth of the past and present lives of our main characters is too disorienting. Unless you're good at keeping several characters with more than one simultaneous role in order (which I am not any good at without a character map), it's easy to confuse the significance of a past life within the context of the present one.

Overall, I was able to appreciate what Rushdie delivered and along the way I've learned that political/religious controversy doesn't always guarantee a 5-star book, and excellent prose doesn't necessarily translate into a 5-star story.
nan47 avatar reviewed The Satanic Verses on + 4 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Mingling of fantasy and reality, sometimes hard to follow, but always with visual interest.
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bookgoddessme avatar reviewed The Satanic Verses on + 106 more book reviews
Have been wanting to see what all the hype was about after all these years... I was grateful I had read Nine Parts of Desire by Geraldine Brooks a couple months back for some good background of the story of Muhammad and the Quaran. I found it to be written in a very male voice similar to my feelings about his book The Enchantress of Florence. It felt like a complete mind fuck from start to and very anticlimactic finish. There was a lot of interesting fantastical descriptions so I hoped the book would not end with such a fizzle. I had high expectations, and they were not met. Doesn't at all mean it is not a well written book, or a book you might enjoy. It really requires your attention, not a light read.
reviewed The Satanic Verses on + 55 more book reviews
A classic.
reviewed The Satanic Verses on + 5 more book reviews
I didn't get a chance to finish this book, but from what I did read it isnt very good